‘Top Chef’ Producer Sues to Keep Details of Payment From Texas Secret

Production company got $400,000 of taxpayers' dollars

The producers of Bravo’s Top Chef really don’t want the taxpayers in Texas to find out just what they've been doing with $400,000 of their money—and now it appears that they’re willing to sue to make sure that it remains a secret.

Last July, after it was revealed that Bravo was shooting its next season of Top Chef in Texas, the Dallas Observer set out to find out how much money the state had forked over for that honor. They discovered that Top Chef’s production company, Magical Elves, had received a total $400,000 in taxpayer dollars—but there was no word, apart from some vague mention of “brand integration,” of exactly what those dollars were used for.

After some prodding, Gov. Rick Perry’s office said that it would be willing to hand over more documents related to the deal. But first it needed the go-ahead from the state attorney general’s office, since the agreement involved a private company. Finally—and despite protests from Magical Elves—the attorney general said that the documents could be released. And that’s when things got ugly.

On Wednesday, the Observer reported that Magical Elves had sued the attorney general to keep him from allowing the governor’s office to turn over any “confidential information” about the agreement. According to the lawsuit, those top-secret documents include “details about the number of episodes and creative elements of ‘Top Chef: Texas,’ the public disclosure of which would reduce viewers’ and advertisers’ interest in the upcoming season and allow competitors to copy creative elements of the program and schedule counterprogramming.”

Perhaps more important, the documents involved might reveal details of a possible sponsorship agreement between Texas and Top Chef, which has become notorious for the unsubtle nature of product integration in the show.