Discovery sues 'Deadliest Catch' stars for $3 million

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Discovery sues 'Deadliest Catch' stars for $3 million

Mon Sep 20, 2010 @ 08:57AM PST

By Eriq Gardner

Paley+Center+Media+Annual+Gala+Arrivals+jtrLtheHezHlMost reality TV producers follow a simple format: Capture what actually happens, then have cast-members fill in story gaps with voice-overs and cutaways. But what about when reality TV stars jump ship before sitting down for the required interviews?

They get sued, of course.

Discovery is now seeking $3 million in damages after two stars of "Deadliest Catch," Johnathan and Andy Hillstrand, allegedly failed to live up to an agreement to complete a spin-off project.

According to the lawsuit, filed last week in Maryland Circuit Court, the Hillstrands were to film a one-time special called "Hillstranded." The duo was coming off five seasons of "Deadliest Catch," one of the most popular programs on any Discovery-affiliated network. The special was to document the team's various adventures in Alaska; work unrelated to their jobs as crab fisherman. Two weeks of principal photography was shot in June, but there was still work to do.

"The Hillstrand Defendants determined that they would reverse course, dishonor their promises, and refuse to render the services necessary to complete 'Hillstranded,'" reads the complaint.

At the end of August, Discovery allegedly called the brothers to confirm a date, time and location for them to sit for interviews. The complaint says the only response was an e-mail from a lawyer for the brothers informing producers that they shouldn't attempt any further contact with them.

Discovery argues that the failure by Hillstrands to complete work has caused production on the show to remain uncompleted. The company says that the show would have earned significant ratings and that it has suffered substantial losses as a result. It is suing for $3 million for breaching contract.

The Hillstrand brothers couldn't be reached for comment. UPDATE: The brothers' lawyer Jeff Cohen has given us an extensive repsponse to the suit, calling it an attempt to "extort" money from his clients. Read the full statement here.

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to

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