How do Reality TV Shows Get Away with Being Fake?

How do Reality TV Shows Get Away with Being Fake?How do Reality TV Shows Get Away with Being Fake?

People can’t yell, argue and stir up controversy as often as reality television makes it seem, can they? Well, thanks to contract provisions much of what people see on reality TV may not be real at all.

The number of unrealistic situations that seem to come up on various reality TV shows may make some people wonder just how these events actually happen. Often, the key is that they don’t – at least not within the context viewers are led to believe. A recent stir over a contract concerning film of a Mariah Carey concert illustrate how reality TV producers get away with straying from reality.

Mariah Carey TV show contract may go too far

Carey has a series coming through E! called “Mariah’s World.” The show will depict her life with family and friends as well as the singer’s Sweet, Sweet Fantasy World Tour, which will last through April according to her Twitter. Her upcoming wedding will also be covered by the program.

The Sun found that participants who attended her London concert VIP after-party and are set to appear in the TV show signed some particularly demanding contracts. There is plenty that these deals can include, including some decidedly dark provisions. The agreements asked participants to waive legal responsibility from YOLO Productions for a number of circumstances – even death. In addition, the contract gave the production company permission to twist events so they are represented “in a fictional manner with a different voice.”

The right to defame participants

Essentially, what this means is that the production company can take film from that London concert after-party and edit it in such a way that the events of the night are completely changed for the television show. Fights can be created out of disparate footage, since this would likely constitute a fictional depiction using a different voice. Contract provisions such as this one are what give reality TV producers the legal permission to depict events in a way that does not entirely or accurately reflect what actually happened. These contracts, at their core, give producers the right to defame participants. discovered contracts for Bravo’s “Real Housewives of New Jersey” that similarly give producers the right to fictionalize events.

“The rights granted herein shall also include the right to edit, delete, dub and fictionalize the footage and materials, the program and the advertisements as producer sees fit in producer’s sole discretion,” the contract’s opening clause explained, according to the media outlet.

Why are producers after these rights?

Producers are after storylines that sell, that’s simply part of the business. People want to watch interesting television shows. The best-selling media often consists of fictionalized storylines. For this reason, it is typically the goal to take footage and edit it to prop up a certain storyline that may not have actually happened, but will sell better with the target demographic. Which means no, many of the things viewers see on reality TV aren’t likely to be real, per se. However, it is best to avoid losing control over how one’s image is depicted in the media. 

If you’re going to be a participant on a reality TV show, or are considering the possibility of joining one, speak with an entertainment law attorney. An expert who understands the ins and outs of reality TV contracts can help you determine whether you’re giving up too much to be in the program.

Otherwise, for more posts regarding reality tv, check out:

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Anthony R. Caruso is a business transactional attorney in New York and New Jersey with experience in structuring, negotiation and completion of legal deals involving business, entrepreneurs, athletes and performers.

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