NBC threatens whining 'Apprentice 4' contestants with legal action
By Reality TV World staff, 11/14/2005
NBC reportedly has a not-so subtle message for The Apprentice 4 contestants who are upset about their appearance on the Donald Trump reality show: shut up or we'll sue you.
According to the New York Daily News, the recent public comments of fired former contestants Markus Garrison and Jennifer Wallen apparently struck a nerve with the network, resulting in a NBC lawyer sending the twosome cease-and-desist letters that threaten legal action.
Based on the letter, the network reportedly considers Markus and Jennifer's recent comments to Daily News gossip columnist Lloyd Grove to be in violation of the nondisclosure agreement that all Apprentice contestants must sign as part of their agreement to appear on the show.
After threatening Markus and Jennifer about their public whining, NBC business affairs attorney Lee Straus also reportedly emailed the rest of this season's cast with a preemptive warning of their own.
"As you may know, two Apprentice participants have recently spoken to Lloyd Grove of the Daily News alleging that they were portrayed unfairly in the program," Straus reportedly wrote in a copy of the email message obtained by the Daily News. "These actions constitute a serious breach of the Applicant Agreement. ... which provides (in part) that you may not discuss the program publicly or reveal information regarding the show without MBP's [Mark Burnett Productions, The Apprentice's production company] and NBC's consent."
In case any of the contestants were still unclear about what NBC was alluding to, Straus spelled it out for the contestants in his next paragraph. "MBP and NBC are entitled to receive liquidated damages of $5 million, any income you may receive in connection with your breach, and any attorneys' fees that MBP and NBC incur in enforcing their rights," Straus wrote. "This is obviously not a pleasant prospect."
Not pleasant indeed.
Last week, the Daily News had published an article in which the then freshly fired Markus had told Grove that the show's "intentionally libelous" editing had "decimated" his reputation -- the latest media strike in Markus' ongoing attacks against The Apprentice producer Mark Burnett and The Donald.
After reading that Trump and Burnett had both refuted Markus' claims that he had been edited unfairly, Jennifer had contacted Grove to lend her support to Markus' allegations, while also alleging that the thrice-married real estate mogul was a male chauvinist in the boardroom.
"I was in there for two hours, fighting for my life, and Donald says out of nowhere, 'I bet you'd make a good wife,'" Jennifer told the paper. "I would say there's ... some sexual discrimination going on there." A Mark Burnett Productions representative had also refuted Jennifer's charge, stating that the Arizona real estate broker (cut in Episode 3) had been fired based on "how lackluster her event-planning was."