Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

‘We Will Put People through Some Potentially Demeaning, Degrading, Stressful, Humiliating Experiences’

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When prospective Survivor cast members sign the 32-page contract and nine-page rule book, initialing each page, they agree to be inflicted with “severe mental stress,” allow the network to register websites using their name, “not defame, disparage or cast in an unfavorable light” CBS or Mark Burnett Productions and never write a book about their experiences. They also agree to the fact that the television program may reveal things “of a personal, private, intimate, surprising, defamatory, disparaging, embarrassing or unfavorable nature that may be factual and/or fictional” and that may expose them to “public ridicule, humiliation or condemnation.”

It is a fairly typical contract. “Few contestants read their contracts or have a lawyer read it,” Marc Marcuse says. “You’re going to be on fucking TV. It could say, ‘Give me your firstborn child,’ and they’d sign it. They want fame.” Marcuse would know: After appearing on NBC’s Average Joe he started working as a booking agent for reality-TV stars. Is it possible to make an informed decision about the consequences of page after page of legalese—especially if you’re in a crisis or mentally ill? “No, which is why I handed my contract to a lawyer, and my lawyer said, ‘I would never sign this contract,’ ” Marcuse says. “And I did anyway.”

The Curse of Reality TV. At playboy.com, via longform.org.

Written by gerrycanavan

August 30, 2011 at 12:37 am

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