CBS in Legal Shocker
Fri Dec 20, 4:14 AM ET
By Michael Schneider
HOLLYWOOD (Variety) - The CBS pilot "Culture Shock" has become the latest reality entry to land in potentially hot water.
A couple who served as contestants on "Shock" have sued CBS and producer Rocket Science Laboratories for allegedly injuring one of them -- which they claim then ultimately cost them the game. CBS picked up a pilot for the "Fear Factor"-style show last August.
Jill Mouser and Marcus Russell claim they were misled into believing that a final contest between them and one other couple would not be dangerous or painful.
According to the suit, the female member of each couple was hoisted into a "harness of pain" to be held by her male partner, supposedly mirroring an American Indian rite of passage.
After the plaintiffs objected to the test, Mouser was allowed to test one of the harnesses. It didn't really hurt, the couple maintain in their suit.
But once filming began, the plaintiffs lost a coin toss and their opponents picked the harness Mouser tested. The couple claimed the second harness was very painful and that film and safety crew members at the scene allegedly refused to adjust it.
According to the suit, Mouser was finally lowered after screaming in pain, injected with morphine and driven to a hospital more than an hour away.
The couple said they lost the competition and a prize of $25,000 -- plus another $75,000 if the episode wound up televised on CBS.
A CBS spokesman called the suit "meritless." Calls to Rocket Science partners Chris Cowan and Jean-Michel Michenaud were not returned.
Rocket Science is no stranger to disgruntled reality program contestants. The company, which produced "Temptation Island" for Fox, was sued by two of that show's players, Taheed Watson and Ytossie Patterson, who had been kicked off the show after it was revealed they were the parents of a child.