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ABC Won’t Change TV Premiere Plans for Series Stolen and Leaked to Piracy Site

Variety logo Variety 6/5/2017 Todd Spangler
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ABC had just one thing to say about the piracy of “Steve Harvey’s Funderdome” by hackers one week ahead of its TV premiere: Don’t forget to tune in on Sunday, June 11.

On Sunday evening, hackers released eight stolen episodes of the reality-competition show hosted by Harvey via piracy site The Pirate Bay. Asked for comment, a rep for ABC said viewers are reminded that they can watch the series premiere of “Steve Harvey’s Funderdome” at 9 p.m. ET/PT on the network on June 11. That follows the season 3 premiere of “Celebrity Family Feud” at 8 p.m. ET/PT, which Harvey also hosts.

Other than that, ABC declined to comment. A rep for MGM Television, which produces the show, declined to comment.

The hacker or hackers behind the “Funderdome” leak — using operatic internet handle The Dark Overlord — in April released 10 episodes of Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black” to piracy networks after the streamer evidently ignored extortion threats. The Dark Overlord crew purloined the shows after hacking into the systems of audio post-production firm Larson Studios late last year and has claimed to have obtained about three dozen titles from multiple studio partners.

ABC expects the ratings impact from the piracy on “Steve Harvey’s Funderdome” to be de minimis because the target audience for the summer series isn’t likely to be trolling around piracy websites, sources said.

In the wake of last year’s hack at Larson Studios, Disney-ABC Television has beefed up security requirements for productions from outside studios in how they work with post-production services, according to sources. Now, Disney-ABC vets each partner’s security systems whereas previously Disney-ABC often wasn’t even aware when an outside studio contracted with a third-party company for production services. By contrast, Disney has longstanding security protocols in working with outside vendors for its own productions.

Sources said The Dark Overlord did not contact Disney ABC TV about “Funderdome” but had been in touch with MGM.

In each episode of “Funderdome,” two entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to a studio audience, which votes on which idea will receive seed funding. It’s a spin on ABC’s primetime show “Shark Tank,” which also comes from Burnett and MGM. “Steve Harvey’s Funderdome,” which runs a total of 13 episodes, is executive produced by Burnett, Leslie Garvin and Barry Poznick,

Separately, Disney was the target of a hoax perpetrated an individual or group claiming to have stolen a major unreleased movie — reportedly an incomplete cut of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” The cybercriminals had threatened to release segments of the movie unless the studio paid a ransom. But last month, Disney chief Bob Iger said the company concluded that the threat was not credible and that “nothing has happened.”

Cynthia Littleton contributed to this report.

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