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Thread: Contestant on NBC's The Contender Commits Suicide

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    Contestant on NBC's The Contender Commits Suicide

    I saw this just now on the Drudge Report. I'm including the link, but you have to register to view the story.

    Contestant on NBC's The Contender Commits Suicide

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    Just Forting Around roseskid's Avatar
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    Oh my gosh. Here's another story I found.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/15/bu...15reality.html

    Contestant on NBC Reality Show Commits Suicide
    By BILL CARTER

    Published: February 15, 2005


    contestant in "The Contender" a new NBC reality series about boxing scheduled to start next month, committed suicide yesterday in Philadelphia, network executives said last night.

    NBC executives said that the show would go on as planned, starting March 7.

    The contestant, Najai Turpin, 23, a middleweight boxer from Philadelphia who was known as Nitro, took his life, NBC executives said.

    They offered no other details about the suicide, though they said they thought it had nothing to do with events on the television show.

    "The Contender" chronicles not only the boxers' efforts to win the television tournament, which carries a prize of $1 million, but follows their personal lives, including their relationships with spouses and children. Mr. Turpin's girlfriend also appears in the series, NBC said.

    Mr. Turpin, who entered the series as a well-regarded young fighter with a 13-1 record, had a 2-year-old daughter with his girlfriend.

    Except for a planned live championship, set to take place in May, all the bouts in the "The Contender" have been completed and are on tape. Because the show, like all other reality shows, depends on the suspense of not knowing the outcome of each week's episode, no results of the bouts have been released.

    NBC executives said they were saddened by the news and were setting up a fund to help Mr. Turpin's family. But they said they were convinced the network would be able to broadcast the show as planned.

    Mark Burnett, the show's executive producer, said: "Nothing changes. I'm not even going to make any edits because it's real." Mr. Burnett said that at some point, the series will make a mention of Mr. Turpin's death, probably in an onscreen message at the end of an episode.

    Still, the suicide presents NBC and the show's producers with the quandary of how to deal with Mr. Turpin's death without disrupting the show. Each week two boxers are selected to fight and become the central characters in that week's episode. Mr. Turpin would thus be a principal character in at least one show and if he won his first fight and continued on the series, he would be an even more significant factor.

    NBC has more invested in "The Contender" than any previous reality series, having made a commitment to spend more than $2 million an episode for the 13-episode series. "The Contender" is produced by Mr. Burnett, the most accomplished producer in the reality genre. A principal in the DreamWorks studio, Jeffrey Katzenberg, is also a producer on the series.

    The two men conceived the series as a way to help resurrect the sport of boxing. They have made deals with all 16 boxers involved to promote their careers. The fighters agreed not to pursue any other matches until the series was completed this spring, and the show is paying them $1,500 a week to stay in training in the interim, Mr. Burnett said.

    Mr. Turpin's suicide recalled an incident that almost derailed "Survivor," Mr. Burnett's first hit reality show and the one that ignited the reality trend in American television. A contestant in the first version of the show, which was made for Swedish television and was not produced by Mr. Burnett, committed suicide after he was the first person voted off the island.

    The incident stirred concerns about the risks of reality television, and led Mr. Burnett to conduct extensive psychological tests on his contestants.

    Mr. Burnett said that the boxers on the show had undergone psychological testing.

    A biography of Mr. Turpin on the show's Web site said he had been a restaurant employee who worked cleaning seafood when he was not training for his matches.

    The biography described him as determined to use his boxing career to create a better life for himself and his family.
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    Fort Beaudyfull BorderEevil2's Avatar
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    very sad and my condolences goes out to his family & GF and he leaves behind a little girl?
    Theres always help when you feel like you are at the end of your rope and taking the easy way out you are just making it worse for others around you that you could have fallen back on....

    I went to NBC's website to see what this guy looks like.....
    He was a very handsome guy even though I did not know who he was very well....

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    FORT Fogey
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    So I guess this coward isn't the guy who won The Contender. . . .

    I simply have no respect for him; he had a 2 year old daughter to whom he was responsible and he didn't care about her enough to stick around for her.

    I have no respect at all for this guy.
    Last edited by Pomeraniac; 02-15-2005 at 05:20 AM.

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    FORT Fan Pandimonia's Avatar
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    condolences to his family, thats sad

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    FORT Fanatic weathergirl91's Avatar
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    How very sad I am very sorry this guy felt the need to and leave his little child behind Well, my prayers are with his family

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    Premium Member Yeti Long Shot: Porpoheus Champion
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    What a sad, sad story. I think Mark Burnett should eat the profits on this one and cancel the show. He is exploiting this poor family because of a tragedy.

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    Fight Queen corprip's Avatar
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    Burnett is such a greedy ass. Maybe he should do more than test his potential contestants, and actually go a step further and provide some real counseling for those who get eliminated. It's the least these producers can do for people they are practically exploiting for nothing in return.
    "I've got soul, but I'm not a soldier." The Killers.

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    Scrappy Spartan Broadway's Avatar
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    I saw a little blurb on one of the rag shows last night about this. It's very sad.

    But I think it's unfair to blame Burnett for going on with the show. There's absolutely nothing to suggest that this kid killed himself because of the show. He just had a messed up life and has apparently had a number of problems long before the show started. I don't see any reason to cancel the show, and I think making special note of the situation on the show where he gets eliminated will be very nice and thoughtful. The fund they'll set up for the daughter is very generous.

    My condolences to the family and to his poor daughter.

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    Fight Queen corprip's Avatar
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    I'm not really blaming him for keeping the show going. Rather, I find his callousness astounding. Considering Turpin most likely didn't make it to the finals, it would be impossible to assume his elimination had no impact on his life.

    What I'm really arguing for is better debriefing after someone is eliminated. Not only provide them a counselor before they leave the set, but also keep that provision open even after the contestant has left the set. Burnett needs to stop being a promoter for one second and at least think proactively; and instead of insisting the show must go on and offering a conciliatory trust fund, he should be offering future contestants a guarantee that he will not let this happen again.
    Last edited by corprip; 02-16-2005 at 10:00 AM.
    "I've got soul, but I'm not a soldier." The Killers.

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