'Deadliest Catch' stars quit the showTue Sep 28, 2010 @ 05:03PM PST
By Matthew Belloni
Capts. Johnathan and Andy Hillstrand (right) -- who were sued earlier this month by Discovery for allegedly not performing work on a planned spinoff special -- as well as Capt. Sig Hansen (below), issued a statement to the Hollywood Reporter this afternoon saying they are "unable" to continue on the hit adventure series due to the litigation.
"We have been through a lot over the past year and unfortunately given the current situation with Discovery we are unable to continue participating in 'Deadliest Catch,'" the three crab fishermen said in a joint written statement. "It has been a fantastic ride, and we wish the best to all of the amazing and supportive 'Catch' fans we have met over the years."
A Discovery rep said a statement on the status of the three stars was forthcoming.
As we first reported, Discovery sued the Hillstrands for $3 million claiming they failed to show up to finish work on "Hillstranded," a planned "Catch" spinoff. The Hillstrands' lawyer Jeff Cohen then called the suit an attempt to "extort" his clients and said the lawsuit could force them to sell their boats and fire their crews. Hansen, also repped by Cohen, later weighed in, backing the Hillstrands, slamming Discovery and saying, "I want people to know the captains stand together, and me and my brothers support them 100 percent."
Hansen, captain of the Northwestern, has been a fixture on "Catch" since its first season premiered in 2005. The Hillstrands, captains of the Time Bandit, joined in Season 2. Filming on the seventh season of the Emmy-nominated series is scheduled to begin as crab season starts in October. But barring any reconciliation, it now appears the show will be down three captains (in addition to Capt. Phil Harris, who died earlier this year).
"We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for the captains," Cohen tells us. "I think MaryAnne from Minnesota put it best when she wrote to us: 'The show was meant to shed light on a profession these men so valiantly and tirelessly do season after season, not bankrupt them and take away their livelihood.'"