Whistler’s Ross Rebagliati is unhappy with the CTV television series Whistler , believing a character was at least loosely based on him and portrays him in a negative light.
Rebagliati’s lawyer sent a letter to the show’s producers last week, and the snowboarder held a news conference on Wednesday to explain why he has launched a lawsuit against the network and the company that produces the show.
"The bottom line is that I wasn’t asked about it, There was no opportunity to veto the character or have to do with the show whatsoever," he said.
"I in no way approve or accept the show, and I want to make it clear that the Beck McKaye character has nothing to do with my life."
Rebagliati is suing for libel, breach of privacy and for misappropriating his personality. He is asking the network to cancel the show, and for the network to pay unspecified damages.
The show is centred around a character named Beck McKaye who returns home to Whistler after winning a snowboarding gold medal at the 2006 Winter Games. His body is discovered on the ski hill in the first episode under suspicious circumstances, prompting his younger brother to conduct an investigation of his own into the death. In the process he discovers his older brother was a drunk, a womanizer and was involved in criminal activities.
Rebagliati himself returned to Whistler in 1998 after winning a gold medal in snowboarding at the Olympic Games in Nagano. His win was overshadowed when he tested positive for marijuana, but he was allowed to keep his medal because of a different testing standards between the IOC and FIS, and because the test only discovered trace amounts of the drug.
Rebagliati has also had some negative press and legal troubles of his own recently, resulting from a failed relationship and his real estate dealings. But he is planning to return to World Cup racing and return to form for the 2010 Winter Games.
The similarities don’t end there. Beck is blonde and blue-eyed like Rebagliati, and wears a similar hairstyle.
But according to a statement from Vancouver-based Boardwalk Productions, which produces Whistler, and Toronto-based Blueprint Entertainment, Rebagliati’s name never once came up during the show’s development. They deny the Beck character is in any way connected to the snowboarder.
CTV has not commented on the lawsuit.