'Bachelor' Producers Sue 'Reality Steve' Again Over New Spoilers (Exclusive)
'Reality Steve' Pleads First Amendment in Lawsuit Over 'Bachelor' Spoilers
A lawsuit against a spoiler website is back for another season, just in time for the premiere of The Bachelor on January 7.
Producers of the popular ABC unscripted show are once again targeting "Reality" Steve Carbone, who runs a website devoted to spilling secrets and commenting on shows including The Amazing Race, Real Housewives and Survivor.
NZK Productions and Horizon Alternative Television, a division of Warner Bros., first sued Carbone in December, 2011, alleging that to gain spoilers, he was attempting to induce contestants into breaching their confidentiality pledges. The lawsuit settled in June, with Warners expressing satisfaction that he had agreed to have no further contact whatsoever with any of the cast, crew or employees of The Bachelor. Carbone pledged at the time to continue spoiling the show, but to abide by the settlement so as not to "to give them an alleged excuse to file another (lawsuit)."
Six months. That's how long peace lasted. Now Carbone is back in court to answer new charges from the show's producers.
On December 12, Carbone posted spoilers for the first five episodes of The Bachelor, which this season, will feature Sean Lowe. Included in his post were the full names of the women eliminated from the competition.
By the end of last month, Bachelor producers had gone to California federal court to lodge a new complaint. The plaintiffs say they believe that Carbone continues "to seek confidential information from participants, cast, crew and other employees of The Bachelor Series and, in the course of doing so, continue to solicit and induce participants and employees of The Bachelor Series to breach their contractual obligations to Plaintiffs."
The producers don't go into any detail about who was contacted, or what was offered. That will likely be information sought in discovery. For now, the plaintiffs just say that the information that Carbone has posted is "non-public information" in "increasingly vivid details," including scene-by-scene, shot-by-shot descriptions. The producers also note that Carbone has promised to reveal "everything" about the forthcoming season -- the show's 17th.
At the time of the announcement of the settlement of the first lawsuit, Carbone admitted that he had offered compensation to three women on the last season of the show for information. He denied ever actually paying them.
The settlement agreement stipulated that he would refrain from attempting to contact those involved in the production of The Bachelor. According to the new lawsuit, the settlement also provided a $10,000-per-violation penalty should he breach the pledge.
Carbone is now being sued for both tortious interference as well as breach of the settlement agreement. The producers, represented by attorney Michael J. O'Connor, are asking for a permanent injunction and monetary damages.
"The suit is bogus," Carbone said in an email to The Hollywood Reporter. "The suit was brought in violation of the settlement agreement I previously reached with the producers of the Bachelor series. That agreement does NOT prevent me from publishing spoilers. The producers have provided no proof that I did anything in violation of our agreement because there is none. They just seek to put me out of business by intimidation and litigation costs. I am currently exploring my legal options, including a counterclaim."