TV therapist Dr. Phil McGraw's production company has filed a lawsuit against Gawker Media and its sports gossip site, Deadspin.com.
In the legal papers filed Monday and obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, McGraw's Peteski Productions claims Deadspin.com posted Dr. Phil's interview with Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the man behind the Manti Te'o girlfriend hoax, before it had aired in the majority of “The Dr. Phil Show” markets.
The first part of the two-part interview left viewers with a tease, to watch the next day if Tuiasosopo would speak in the female voice he used to create the fake “Lennay Kekua.”
Tuiasosopo did speak in Kekua's voice in the second part of the interview, but the suit alleges that Deadspin stole the copyrighted material and made it available to viewers online "hours before the 'Dr. Phil Show' aired to over 98% of its viewers," resulting in lower ratings for the second episode.
According to the Reporter, the lawsuit seeks actual damages at an amount to be proven at trial, an injunction preventing Gawker Media from continuing to infringe on Peteski Production's copyright of “Dr. Phil” episodes, plus punitive damages meant to deter Gawker Media from engaging in such behavior in the future.
Deadspin originally broke the Te'o story in January.