A former contestant on Paramount reality show Manhunt last week filed a complaint with the FCC, alleging that corporate officials rigged the competition - a violation of federal laws governing game shows.
Jacqueline Kelly, who went by the nickname "J.K." before being eliminated from the Survivor-style show, based her complaint on statements by co-executive producer Bob Jaffe complaining of interference by officials from Paramount Network Television. Penalties for rigging game shows range from fines to revocation of station licenses.
Jaffe's allegations were first reported by thestingray.net, a news web site. Among Jaffe's charges: Gary Hart, president of Paramount Network Television, and Kerry McCluggage, chairman of Paramount TV Group, urged him to intervene to help another female contestant progress to final rounds in a bid to boost ratings.
Network officials have admitted adding scripted scenes featuring the contestants, but deny rigging the outcome. Jaffe stepped down when he refused to shoot the added scenes, which were intended to create the impression of personal disputes between the 13 contestants.
Kelly also alleges that network intervention contributed to her elimination from the show when executive producer Christopher Crowe forced her to conduct an interview rather than help an injured teammate. Unaware that she was ordered to participate in the interview, angry fellow contestants selected her to run a paintball gauntlet that resulted in her elimination from the contest after she was struck by one of the messy missiles.
Manhunt, which airs on UPN, is the second Viacom-controlled reality show to face allegations of manipulation. Stacey Stillwell, a contestant on CBS's Survivor
claims network bosses also arranged her eviction from the show. Her lawsuit is
pending in California Superior Court.
Viacom owns Paramount, UPN and CBS. - Bill McConnell