A staff attorney for CBS has formally warned former Survivor contestant Helen Glover that the network believes her March 11 column for The Providence Journal on the current Survivor series violated the confidentiality agreement she signed in 2002, before her participation on Survivor: Thailand.
In an e-mail, Ray White, assistant general counsel for CBS, wrote that Glover's description of what happened to her immediately after she was voted off the Survivor: Thailand edition of the hit reality show violated an agreement she made with CBS not to disclose "the methods of production" of Survivor.
The agreement covers a period of three years after the last episode of Survivor: Thailand aired.
As a result of the warning, Glover has begun submitting her freelance Survivor column to CBS entertainment lawyers for review prior to publication. After being informed of these developments, The Journal has decided to no longer purchase Glover's weekly commentary.
"We do not submit our articles for approval prior to publication to institutions outside the newspaper. What CBS wants is the right to edit the work of a person writing for The Journal. We find that arrangement unacceptable," said Joel Rawson, executive editor of The Journal.
A spokesman for CBS News, which is separate from the entertainment division that's responsible for Survivor, said they don't allow outside parties to see their stories prior to broadcast.
"No, no, no, no, no. It's absolutely against CBS standards to let anyone do that," said CBS news spokesman Sandy Genelius.
CBS attorney White said that while the network appreciated getting a preview of Glover's columns, it was "not a requirement." Glover, interviewed by phone in Hawaii, said that certainly wasn't the impression she received. "It was not a suggestion," Glover said. "It was a choice -- either stop writing the column or submit it in advance."
Glover has been writing a weekly commentary on Survivor: All-Stars for The Journal since Jan. 31, the day before the show's all-star version went on the air.
Glover's March 11 column contained information, under the heading "What You Don't Know" that described what happens to contestants immediately after they are voted out of the game.
Glover described how ousted contestants are sent to a base camp behind the scenes, where they receive a meal, a shower and a visit from a psychiatrist.
"They come to check on you, making sure you are all right. Some people leave the game angry or depressed. Others leave ill, while still others leave with a sense of relief," Glover wrote. "The psychiatrist continues to call on you even after you return home, as many people have trouble adjusting to the normal routine of life again."
The next day, CBS attorney White sent Glover an e-mail reminding Glover of the agreement she signed in March 2002.. White wrote that the agreement precludes her from discussing, among other things, the show's "methods of production."
"The information you describe in your article regarding how the Producers handle participants once they are voted off clearly falls under this category," White wrote.
Glover was on vacation in Hawaii when the e-mail was sent and did not immediately read the message. The Journal ran another Glover column on March 17.
After reading the e-mail and talking to CBS officials, Glover submitted her next column, set to run today, to CBS before sending it to The Journal. (Survivor: All-Stars airs tonight at 8 p.m.)
In a phone interview, White said CBS has no problem with former contestants commenting on what's already been broadcast, or making predictions. What's not allowed, he said, is for them to disclose information they could only learn as a result of being on the show.
Glover said she was shocked and disappointed to get a warning from CBS.
"I love Survivor and the people who play the game. I would never, ever want to do anything to ruin the show. . . . I tried to be so careful not to divulge anything that would be a secret," she said.
Glover, a Navy swim instructor, placed fourth in Survivor: Thailand in 2002.
Glover said that more than 100 former Survivor participants have provided commentary for newspapers, magazines, radio stations, TV stations and Web sites after appearing on the reality show.
White said Glover is not the only former contestant to receive legal warnings from CBS, although he did not give any other examples.
USA Today uses a rotating panel of three former contestants to comment on the show. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer runs a column by Sandra Diaz-Twine, winner of Survivor: Pearl Islands.
Stephanie Reid-Simons, lifestyle editor for the Post-Intelligencer, said that as far as she knew, Diaz-Twine has not had any problems with CBS.
Reid-Simons said Diaz-Twine received permission from CBS to write a column before it ever ran.
Glover said she did not seek prior permission from CBS.
In addition to writing for The Journal, Glover offers commentary on radio station WSNE the morning after each Survivor show. Glover said those segments do not disclose any insider information, and she plans to continue them.