Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Los Angeles man who launched an expletive-laden tirade against Sarah Palin’s daughter, Bristol, has filed a lawsuit against the Lifetime Network alleging he was taped for her reality show without his knowledge or consent.

In a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday, Stephen Hanks seeks general and punitive damages, saying he’s a victim of defamation and invasion of privacy after video of the heated confrontation was aired.

Mr. Hanks alleges he wasn’t told the film crew at a West Hollywood bar in September was shooting footage for the reality show “Bristol Palin: Life’s a Tripp.”

The show, which premieres Tuesday, will follow the single mother for 14 half-hour episodes.

In recently released video from the upcoming show, Mr. Hanks heckles Ms. Palin while watching her ride a mechanical bull at the bar, yelling out, “Your mother’s a whore.”

After Ms. Palin confronted the man over the insult, their conversation grew heated and he called the 21-year-old “white trash from Wasilla.”

In the lawsuit, Mr. Hanks alleges that Ms. Palin also defamed him in a magazine and called him a homosexual.

On her blog, Ms. Palin complained about bullying when recalling the incident, saying “a guy started yelling at me and called my mom terrible names, but couldn’t tell me one decent reason why he was filled with such hate.”

Judge not convinced to block ‘Glass House’

A federal judge on Friday said he’s inclined to allow ABC to air its new reality competition series “The Glass House” over rival network CBS‘ objections that the show copies “Big Brother.”

U.S. District Judge Gary Feess said Friday he was not persuaded that CBS had proved it would be harmed if “Glass House” aired. He said the new show’s audience participation element is likely to make it different.

ABC has said “Glass House” contestants will have to curry audience popularity to succeed on the series.

“The audience involvement in particular in ‘The Glass House’ is a constant role in this show as it proceeds,” Judge Feess said. “I think is very likely to induce quite different behavior than one would expect to see in the 'Big Brother' show.”

Judge Feess said he would look at issues raised during a hearing Friday, but he didn’t think his tentative decision would change.

CBS had sought to block the show from airing over concerns it violated copyright and trade secrets related to its hit show “Big Brother.” “Glass House” is scheduled to air Monday night after “The Bachelorette.”

“This is the first time where a reality show has been copied lock, stock and barrel with minor changes around the fringes to try to make it look different,” CBS attorney Scott Edelman argued Friday.

Judge Feess said CBS was trying to protect generic reality show elements, which isn’t allowed under copyright law. He also said he thinks CBS overstated its trade secret complaints.

Glenn Pomerantz, who represents ABC, said there was no way CBS could prove its case and his clients weren’t stealing their work.

“ABC doesn’t want to use any of CBS‘ trade secrets,” Mr. Pomerantz said. “It doesn’t need them.”

ABC had denied all wrongdoing and said it has spent $16 million promoting the show and millions more to develop it.

The judge, who acknowledged he’s no fan of reality television, said he’s not convinced that “Glass House” will eat into the audience of “Big Brother.”

“Frankly I thought after the first or second reality shows on television, we would never see others,” Judge Feess said. “Boy, was I wrong.”

TV series condemned by Hutterite leaders

A TV documentary series about an Anabaptist community in Montana offers a “distorted” and contrived image, bishops representing the Hutterite faith in the U.S. and Canada said Thursday.

John Stahl, Peter Entz and John Waldner, bishops for the three sects encompassing the roughly 50,000 Hutterites and 500 colonies in North America, said in a joint statement they are “deeply disappointed” in National Geographic Channel’s “American Colony: Meet the Hutterites.”

The 10-part series that began airing last month promised a rare inside look at Hutterite colony life, focusing on the King Ranch Colony.

“What was promised by the producers to be a ‘factual documentary’ is, in fact, a distorted and exploitative version of Hutterite life,” the bishops said, one that paints all Hutterites in a “negative and inaccurate way.”

The bishops accused producers of contriving scenes and dialogue in a “make believe” portrayal of “how we live and the spiritual beliefs we cherish.”

David Lyle, National Geographic Channel’s CEO, vigorously defended the channel and the series.

“This is a declaration of war from the Hutterite elders against the National Geographic Society, calling into account our fairness,” Mr. Lyle said. “We absolutely are fairly representing the King community.”

The bishops’ criticisms reflect “the very tensions that are at the core of this story,” he said, which he described as the conflict between Hutterite traditions and rules, and some colony members’ efforts to remain devout while adapting to 21st-century society.

The Hutterites are Protestants similar to the Amish and Mennonites who live a life centered on their religion, but unlike the others, Hutterites live in German-speaking communes scattered across Northern U.S. states and Canada.

“American Colony” depicts members of the 59-member King Ranch commune, located more than 100 miles from Billings, Mont., as drinking alcoholic beverages and cursing. Some parents are shown questioning their faith’s tenets, while a restless teenager flouts rules on dress and dating.

Hutterites are “a culture that 75 percent of Americans never have heard about. That should have been interesting enough,” said Mary-Ann Kirkby, a member of the faith who lives in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. She wrote the 2010 memoir, “I Am Hutterite.”

“To then make them act completely out of character for your own ends shows a great lack of judgment and decency,” said Ms. Kirkby, who said she has had detailed discussions with the bishops about the show and their concerns.

• Compiled from Web and wire reports