A contract for non-cast members appearing on The Real Housewives of New Jersey provides some insight into how your reality TV sausage is made. The terms of the agreement flat out state that the producers reserve the right to not only "fictionalize" footage but also subject those who sign on to "public ridicule, humiliation or condemnation."
The contract, which was obtained by Radar Online, for unpaid participants who film scenes with the regular cast seems to be much more than a standard release form for appearing on camera. These are a few of the 17 terms listed in the document that a signer would need to agree to:
- "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."
- "[W]aiving any and all rights I may have to any compensation whatsoever."
- It is not the fault of production of participants are injured, defamed or have "personal, private, surprising, disparaging and embarrassing" details of their lives broadcast on TV.
- They must "clothing, costumes, accessories and/or makeup" chosen by the producers.
- Footage may be "exploited throughout the universe at any time, in perpetuity."
- They cannot run for public office for 12 months after their last scene is shot.
So why would anyone agree to these terms? Well, the contract spells that out too: "a significant element of the consideration I am receiving… is the opportunity for publicity."