Secrets of Reality TV Participant Contracts

How much would it cost a reality show participant who revealed a secret storyline twist before the episode was broadcast?  If the show in question is Survivor, the tattle-taler (tattle-teller?) could be looking at lawsuit from the producers for $5 million.

Eriq Gardner at THR, Esq. points out some of the highlights in his report on the matter: ‘Survivor’ Contestants Owe $5 Million If They Spill Secrets.  The website reality blurred has uploaded a copy of the Survivor participant agreement (it was first uploaded back in May, then taken down due to a copyright infringement claim, but is currently back online), and offers a detailed look at its provisions, including releases for infliction of severe mental stress and the granting of an option to enter into a talent agreement following the show (which makes perfect sense: if the network is going expend capital in turning someone into a "star", they’re going to want to realize on that investment). 

While Survivor is a celebrated legend in the world of reality TV, readers may also be interested in the participant agreement from the 2007 series Kid Nation – a sort of ersatz Lord of the Flies.

Finally, Rachel Wilkes at Law Law Land provides some details about The Reality of Court-Themed "Reality" Shows:

To participate in the show, the parties must sign an agreement to dismiss their court claims and submit the case to binding arbitration. …  in The People’s Court the show pays any judgment, and pays both parties a nominal amount for their time regardless of the outcome.

So, not only is The People’s Court not really a court, the parties aren’t even obligated to pay the awards?  Colour me disillusioned…

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Bob Tarantino

About Bob Tarantino

Bob Tarantino is Counsel at Dentons Canada LLP and focuses his practice on the interface between the entertainment industries and intellectual property law, with an emphasis on film and television production, financing, licensing, distribution, and IP acquisition and protection. His clients range from artists and independent producers to Canadian distributors and foreign studios and financiers at every stage of the creative process, from development to delivery and exploitation.

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