Greg Gumbel was tricked by a television producer into taping introductions for infomercials -- footage the CBS Sports broadcaster thought would be used for educational programs, according to a federal lawsuit.
Gumbel, who hosts CBS' coverage of the NCAA men's basketball tournament, filed the lawsuit Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale.
Paul Douglas Scott, owner of the Deerfield Beach-based Encore Television Group Inc., did not tell Gumbel the introductions would be used to promote products ranging from time-shares to tools, the lawsuit says.
Scott approached Gumbel and his agent in 2007 with a deal to introduce educational and news-oriented programming that would be produced by Encore, according to the lawsuit. Scott told Gumbel they would be producing 2-minute education stories called "Eye on America."
The stories were supposed to cover subjects like health technology, business, trends and fashion. Gumbel was paid $50,000 to tape introductions for one day in late 2007 at Encore's studios. He was then paid $60,000 to record for another day in early 2008.
It wasn't until later that Gumbel learned the programs were actually infomercials, designed to look like news broadcasts but paid for by the subjects of the shows, according to the suit. Gumbel claims the shows incorrectly suggest he personally endorsed certain products.
"Gumbel was appalled by the association of his taped introductions with infomercials," the lawsuit said, claiming the broadcaster's name and likeness were exploited for financial gain.
Infomercial subjects included time-shares, real estate, cell chargers, water treatment, fiber products, beverages, magnet therapy, employee-monitoring software, marketing tools and yoga.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages. It also seeks a court order to have Scott remove any videos featuring Gumbel from the Web.
Gumbel's attorney would not comment on the suit, and a telephone number listed on Encore Television Group's Web site had been disconnected.
Here's the time-share version...
Those of us at OSG HQ looked at as many of these as we could find. Gumbel, apparently, cut one opening stand-up, a different intro for each topic, and then the segment ran for about five minutes. Encore is, probably, going to need to settle very quickly.