Rudy Denies Prior Friendship with Burnettby David Bloomberg -- 07/10/2002
According to Dirk’s testimony in the lawsuit war between Stacey Stillman and Surviovor/CBS, contestant Rudy Boesch and executive producer Mark Burnett knew each other before the game ever started. (Read our full analysis of the testimony here.) Specifically, he testified that Rudy described his relationship with Burnett as “friends,” and Dirk thought this was rather unfair – to have a contestant who is pals with the executive director of the game show.
Indeed, the whole brouhaha is based on the claim that Burnett influenced Dirk to vote against Stacey instead of Rudy at a crucial Tribal Council. Later, Dirk alleged, Burnett talked Rudy into joining the Tagi alliance led by Rich Hatch. Could Burnett have been helping him because of their friendship? That certainly is one possibility.
But Burnett and Rudy both deny it. A Burnett spokesperson is quoted in a Zap2it.com article of May 29 as saying they only met in passing when Rudy helped support the Navy SEAL team in Burnett’s Eco-Challenge. Rudy told a Chicago Tribune reporter last week (and discussed in a short blurb on June 7) that he became friendly with Burnett only after Survivor ended. (This was at BookExpo, where he was promoting his book, The Book of Rudy: The Wit and Wisdom of Rudy Boesch -- though I can’t find any mention of that book actually being out yet.)
Rudy says he met Burnett five years ago but they only talked in a large group of 500 or so. So, once again, we have conflicting statements between what Dirk has said and what others have said. While Rudy’s motives are more difficult to impugn than most, due to his years of Navy service and apparently honorable character, we do have to recognize that it is possible that he might not be telling the whole truth right now.
For one thing, if Dirk’s statements are correct, Rudy was the beneficiary of quite a bit of help from Burnett. That has continued and, as both Rudy and Burnett have noted, they are indeed friends now. Furthermore, Rudy will be hosting Burnett’s new show, Combat Missions on USA Networks this Fall. Finally, lest we forget, Rudy is famous in part for his attitude that a deal is a deal and a promise is a promise. We saw this when he stuck by Rich all the way to the end, even though Rich bailed out of the final immunity challenge, knowing full well that Kelly would get rid of Rudy. So if he made a promise to Burnett that he would not reveal any of this, it’s highly unlikely that he would turn around and rat out his friend at this stage in the game.
Where things could get interesting is if he is required to testify, under oath, as to these occurrences. He told the Tribune reporter that “there’s no way you can pull strings in that game.” This shows either quite a bit of na´vetÚ or a bit of defensiveness. Certainly he can’t honestly believe there is no way to pull strings in Survivor. I mean, even if what Dirk says is utterly untrue (which is unlikely, at best), he has indeed laid out exactly how somebody could pull strings in the game.
Rudy could certainly end up coming across as a more reliable witness than Dirk as far as a jury is concerned. But we are still left with the fact that Dirk apparently has nothing to gain by giving these details. Like it or not, Rudy does have something to lose if they are affirmed. If what Dirk has said is true, will Rudy spill his guts on the stand? Only time will tell.
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