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STRANGER THAN FICTION: The couple that was bounced off "Temptation Island" because they lied to producers are suing, claiming defamation of character.

Could be a tough case, given the fact that they're not only liars but, by appearing on the show, have demonstrated they have little if any character to defame.

The "Temptation" rules (such as they are) were that these so-called "committed couples" who were exploring their dating options on the "Island" couldn't have children. Ytossie Patterson and Taheed Wallace hid the existence of their 2-year-old.

(A child they planned to leave behind and have no contact with during the weeks they were on the island.)

Well, the news came out and they were tossed, although they continued to have a presence on the show thanks to interviews taped after they returned home.

Patterson and Watson are saying that Fox and the producers knew all along they had a child and planned all along to use that information to boot them off the show and boost ratings. And they allege that being confronted by the producers was "condescending and humiliating."

While it may be true that Fox and the producers knew of the child all along — stranger things have happened at the network — to turn around now and say "Temptation Island" was a "humiliating" experience" seems just a bit disingenuous. Like anybody going on a Fox reality show couldn't expect to be humiliated.

Maybe that 2-year-old child ought to think about suing his parents for the humiliation he's suffered because of their appearance on the show.

JUST JACK? Speaking of cashing in . . . er, uh, TV-related lawsuits, a man named Jack Deamer is suing the producers of "Will & Grace," saying the character of Jack McFarland (played by Sean Hayes) is based on him.

Which raises a couple of interesting questions. First, if the fictional Jack was based on him, why would Deamer want anyone to know?

(Oh, yeah — the money.)

And, second, does this mean that writers (of TV, movies, books or anything else) can't base fictional characters on real people they've met or read about?

Think of all the money Shakespeare must owe to everyone from Julius Caesar to Richard III.


TONE IT DOWN, JANE: I really, really like Jane Clayson and, for the most part, think she does a great job as co-host of CBS's "Early Show." But she seems to have gotten caught up in the CBS overkill on "Survivor."

Clayson was just over the top recently when she interviewed "Survivor" loser/resident witch Jerri Manthey.

She demonstrated her approval of Manthey's statements that she enjoyed being on the show with an "attractive man" like Colby Donaldson by high-fiving the ex-Survivor and exclaiming, "That's my girl!"

The line between news and entertainment pandering may be indistinct, but Clayson definitely crossed it there.

E-mail: pierce@desnews.com