Full Show Index
Advertise With Us
Write For Us
Coming Up to Date on the Manhunt Scandalby Melinda Smith -- 07/10/2002
View Printable version of this article
Charges that Paramount Network TV “fixed” the UPN reality show Manhunt continue to mount. Two complaints have now been filed with the FCC, and the show’s original co-executive producer and Judge both claim the show was rigged.
The second complaint was filed earlier this month with the FCC by a professor of broadcasting at Union University, Tennessee. Professor Steve Beverly brings forward the same charges made by former co-executive producer Bob Jaffe. The charges include re-enacting scenes, manipulating challenges, and coercing contestants by threatening to withhold prize monies. The first FCC charge was filed by contestant Jacqueline “J.K.” Kelly, who also claims that she and fellow contestants were told they wouldn’t receive any prize money until the last episode of Manhunt aired, but that “the show would never air unless we did the (fake) scenes.” All 12 of the remaining contestants reportedly took part in the reshoots.
Jaffe and the show’s Judge, Hash Shaalan, a former Navy SEAL, who was also an Event Producer, provide the most damning evidence of fraud. Jaffe and Shaalan have stated that Paramount executives were not satisfied with the way contestants performed during the shoot on the island of Kauai. Jaffe claims that president Gary Hart and studio chairman Kerry McCluggage approached him about manipulating the gauntlets. Hart and McCluggage were concerned that these “capture-the-flag” races were too difficult and were eliminating favored contestants. Contestant Mandy Kaplan was deemed “very charismatic” by the show’s producers, and her gauntlet run was one alleged by Jaffe and Shaalan to have been manipulated in her favor. (See Episode 4, “Thinning the Herd.”
Both Jaffe and Shaalan claim that extensive reshoots were done in Los Angeles after filming wrapped up in Hawaii. The contestants, most of whom had their heads shaved when they were eliminated, wore bandannas during the reshoots in Griffith Park. They recited scripted dialogue provided by Paramount and this footage was inserted into the original film. A disclaimer by Paramount was added after the fraud charges were filed says, “This program includes dramatic scenes intended for entertainment purposes only.”
In perhaps the most disturbing allegation made against Paramount, Hash Shaalan, who trained both the show’s hunters and contestants, states that contestants were injured during filming and were not given any medical treatment. Two of the contestants, James McCaughley and Lucas Ford, sustained leg injuries. McCaughley has undergone knee surgery, but Ford, who has no insurance, is still injured, according to Shaalan.
In an interview with Peter Lance of The Stingray, Shaalan states the show “wasn’t accurate at all. It was very deceiving.” His charges include that of bogus distances being stated, bonus challenges were left out, and the course of events was manipulated so that certain contestants survived to the end. “From the first voice you hear, that of the Narrator, you’re told that this was a 50 mile course when, in fact, it was about half that. When the producer flew in, they basically wreaked havoc on the process by constantly saying, ‘What if we did that? Why don’t we do this?’ A lot of times they’d just be in a huddle and one of them would run out to me during a break in the action and tell me to do something: ‘Go bring that person over here.’ Every time we went to set up a gauntlet, it would seem that we would have to appease the producers who flew in and make sure that the gauntlet suited their needs as opposed to what our feelings were at the time. ‘This gauntlet was too easy,’ or ‘That gauntlet was too hard.’ Mandy’s gauntlet was everything everybody says it is that I’m hearing. Yeah. They tried to fix it. Producer intervention shaped the outcome of the show. There’s no question about it. They took J.K. out of the game. She may very well have won that game. Jim Lee was definitely kept in the game. Now I’m not saying his accomplishments aren’t merited because he was a great warrior out there. He’s a great person. He did great things. He’s got awesome leadership ability. He also had an immunity card stuck in his backpack. It was portrayed as a random act. These were immunity cards. And the idea was to put them in the backpacks and we’ll see who has the lucky card. That person would have immunity, which meant that if he got shot, it didn’t count. But I was instructed to make sure that the envelope with the immunity card was slipped into Jim’s backpack. I was told over and over and over ‘Hash. Make absolutely sure. Do not mess this up. This is very important.’ ”
He goes on to say that contestant J.K., who was the first to be eliminated, was physically restrained by Producer Christopher Crowe as she was attempting to go to the aid of James McCaughley, who was injured. “He basically took her out of the game, while the clock was running and it was during a very intense and important moment for the contestants as a team. He basically put her onto the ground and did this interview and during the time that elapsed, her absence created, I think, an issue with some of the other contestants. In fact, they alluded to that during their vote, citing this as a reason they were going to vote her off.” Shaalan adds, “It was stated early on that there would be no interference. One of the rules that I did impart to the contestants was that there would be absolutely no physical contact between them and the hunters and I also said that nobody in the field was going to come into play. The producers; the cameramen…they wouldn’t influence them.”
One way or the other, Paramount has got a lot of ‘splainin’ to do. Log on for more Manhunt updates as information becomes available.
Melinda Smith is a technical illustrator and writer with a background in graphic arts. She and her family live in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Be sure to sign up for our e-mail update so you can stay informed about new articles on the site! You can find our most recent articles at the Home page and take a look at our sections on WWF Tough Enough and Big Brother 2. You can even buy reality show stuff at our Reality TV Store!
View Printable version of this article