Wicked Chops Poker Exclusive: WPT Screws Shana Hiatt From Going to NBC’s Heads-Up Poker Championship

The World Poker Tour has blocked Shana Hiatt from accepting a reporting gig with NBC’s National Heads-Up Poker Championship, refusing to release the popular ex-hostess from her contract, claims a well-placed source within the poker industry in an email sent to Wicked Chops Poker.

Shanahiatt_1The 31-year-old Hiatt, who served as hostess for the World Poker Tour during its first three seasons, was reportedly NBC‚Äôs top choice to replace Head’s Up post-match reporter Kathryn Tappen. Tappen departed NBC last month to assume weekend anchor duties at New England sports network, NESN.

Around that time, NBC contacted Hiatt about the job. She told NBC to first get permission from her old bosses, as the WPT apparently still has her under contract and maintains some control over her rights. And even though Hiatt has not worked for the popular Travel Channel show since the WPT World Championship III in 2005, and the WPT is on to its second hostess since Hiatt left, the WPT still said "no."

Formerly married to James Van Patten, brother of WPT co-host Vince, Hiatt had a successful modeling career, including an appearance in Playboy’s "The Girls of Hawaiian Tropic: Naked in Paradise" video, as well as some small movie roles, prior to joining the WPT as hostess in 2003. Hiatt eventually left the WPT for personal reasons in 2005 and had no interest in returning to the show.

But we were told Hiatt recently decided to get back into the televised poker scene. With NBC as a willing and wanting partner, “it was a natural fit,” our source said.

Unfortunately for her, the WPT didn’t see it that way.

While we believe the WPT has very valid points in its response last week to the anti-competitive and likeness usage lawsuit filed against them by seven pro players, they are (allegedly) way off-base on this one. As our source said: ‚ÄúConsidering that networks often allow their broadcasters to show up on other networks while employed, [like Bob] Costas on HBO [even though he is a] NBC employee, or [Bryant] Gumbel on the NFL Network [even though he is a] HBO employee, this seems to be a particularly egregious denial on WPT’s part.‚Äù

NBC is now considering LeeAnn Tweeden (of Mansionpoker.net’s Poker Dome Challenge) and Lisa Dergan (of Poker Royale and Master of Champions), among others.

Wicked Chops Poker contacted both the WPT and NBC for comment, and our calls were not returned in time for publishing. If we do receive responses from either company, we will post them on the site.

UPDATED: Shana Sues the World Poker Tour.


6 Responses

  1. Mikey

    September 6, 2006 10:17 am, Reply

    that’s great they are well within their rights and obviously that’s what they’re exercising here but that doesn’t mean they have to cock block nbc from hiring her. unfortunately unlike Gumbel and Costas, hiatt didn’t have the leverage in negotiating her contract (something courts consider in non-compete cases) at the beginning to allow for her to take other gigs like the nbc one. WPT should let her seek other reasonable opportunities that let her use her particular skills and in this case that is her looking cute and sexy while talking poker on tv…also i see very little harm to WPT at this time…a year and a half since her departure…so i say FREE SHANA

  2. Paul Sorrell

    September 22, 2006 5:18 pm, Reply

    Shana Hiatt today obtained a temporary restraining order “enjoining and restraining [WPT and its representatives] from seeking to prevent or prohibit [Shana] from seeking employment with NBC in connection with appearances in two poker-themed television shows by claiming or asserting the existence of a non-competitive or other exclusivity agreement.” Los Angeles County Superior Court Case No. SC091169. Any questions may be directed to Paul N. Sorrell, Esq. or Martin D. Singer, Esq. of Lavely & Singer, 310-556-3501.

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