Reality Show Contract

If you’re chosen to be a regular performer in a reality show, you will most likely be asked to sign a reality show contract with the production company that is producing the reality show.  You may be excited and can’t wait to sign and become a nationally known television star but do not rush to sign the reality show contract.  There may be sections of your reality show contract that could have unintended harmful consequences for you.  You should have your reality show contract (and all entertainment contracts) negotiated and reviewed by an experienced entertainment attorney.

Your reality show contract may state that you are a “participant” in the reality show and that you agree to be in the reality show for a certain amount of time for the “first cycle” (first episodes) of the reality show and then the production company will have “options” (the right to extend the agreement) for additional “cycles”  (subsequent episodes) of the reality show.  If you agree to this, you may be bound by your reality show casting contract for many years which may seem like a positive – but what if some other show or other opportunity arises which you would like to pursue – but you can’t pursue it because of the “options.”  Your experienced entertainment attorney can negotiate whether there should be options and if there are options, how many and for what duration.

Another area that needs to be negotiated by your experienced entertainment attorney is the amount of money that you will get paid for being a reality show performer during the first cycle and each additional cycle that you are on the reality show.  You should receive a raise for each additional cycle.  In addition, your experienced entertainment attorney should make sure that you get paid for any service you provide to the reality show other than performing in an episode during a cycle.  Sometimes, the production company involved may require that you perform some services (example: publicity appearances) for the reality show without getting paid.  If the production company will not agree to pay  you for a publicity appearance, your experienced entertainment attorney should negotiate for the production company to pay all your expenses and if travel is involved, to pay for first class airfare; accommodations; and meals; as well as to provide for first class local transportation.

There are many other areas of your reality show contract that also need to be negotiated by your experienced entertainment attorney. These areas include but are not limited to: release of liability (where the production company requires that you excuse them from any injuries you may receive during production);  and access (essentially where you lose your constitutionally guaranteed right of privacy –  you grant access to your entire “actual life” and the production company will require the right to place hidden microphones on you and in various locations where you live and work and play).  As you can imagine these are important rights you are being asked to give up and it is essential that you have an experienced entertainment attorney to negotiate for you and protect your valuable rights.

The question everyone wants to know is how real are reality shows.  This question may be answered in part by a provision of your reality show contract in which the production company will require that you “do over” the scenes as actually filmed (the “real scenes”) until the production company is satisfied.  So much for reality.

These are just the absolute basics of a reality show casting contract.  If you are offered a reality show casting contract, it is crucial that you have an experienced entertainment attorney, who will be looking out for you, to make sure that you are not taken advantage of and get the best reality show casting contract possible.

For further information and a free consultation regarding a reality show casting contract or any other entertainment issues, contact Richard Freiman at (310) 917-1024 or via the form on the right.