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Survivor admits he was “influenced”

Bowing to legal challenges by First Amendment activists, CBS on Friday released transcripts of a deposition from former Survivor contestant Dirk Been in which he acknowledged that he was influenced by producer Mark Burnett to vote against Stacey Stillman instead of former Navy SEAL Rudy Boesch. “I felt that influence affected the game in an unfair manner,” Been said in the deposition. He also described a phone conversation with Burnett last summer, while the show was being broadcast, in which the producer denied that he had ever tried to influence his vote. “And obviously I was a little distraught,” Been said, “simply because now here’s somebody that I care about and thought I was friends with telling me something I know that happened didn’t happen.” (Been was the contestant who carried a bible with him during the filming.) Been said that he also sent a letter to Burnett on May 23, 2000, saying “When I began to see the true level of your involvement, understanding how you swung votes and seeing the things you swept under the rug, it tainted the entire experience.” CBS, however, observed on Friday that at no time did Been accuse Burnett of “manipulation,” as former contestant Stacey Stillman has in her lawsuit against CBS and Burnett’s company.

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