'We Can Fictionalize The Footage!': Secret Bravo Contract Exposes How 'Reality' TV Shows Are REALLY Made


Sep. 23 2013, Published 6:41 a.m. ET

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This is the "real" world of reality television. has exclusively obtained an unsigned Real Housewives of New Jersey contract for the current season that makes for alarming reading for anyone who wants their fifteen minutes of fame on the popular Bravo show.

EXCLUSIVE DOCUMENT: Read The Secret 'Real Housewives' Contract

Before the cameras begin to roll, participants must agree to the incredibly thorough contract, which has little to no room for negotiation.

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Staggeringly, the UNPAID reality show hopefuls agree -- via an "appearance release form" -- to allow the scenes they participate in to be spun into any story line of the producers choosing!

EXCLUSIVE DOCUMENT: Read The Secret 'Real Housewives' Contract

"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 opening clause in the contract reads.

What's more, the document reveals how participants agree, from a legal standpoint, that it's not the fault of the production company if they're injured, defamed or have "personal, private, surprising, disparaging and embarrassing" details of their life broadcast -- even if those humiliating and "unfavorable" details are not true!

Under the stipulations of the five-page standard contract, participants in Housewives -- one of the most popular "reality" shows on the air -- agree to the 17 terms, including:

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  • They will not be paid for participating. "I hereby waive any and all rights I may have to any compensation whatsoever."
  • The show may expose them to "public ridicule, humiliation or condemnation" and may portray them in a false light.
  • They shall not talk about the show and what goes on behind-the-scenes — ever — keeping "in strictest confidence" both "prior to, during, or after the taping" all "information or materials."
  • They must wear "clothing, costumes, accessories and/or makeup" at the discretion of producers.
  • Their appearances on the show are "not a performance and is not (considered) employment." It adds, "I acknowledge that I am a volunteer."
  • Footage of them may be "exploited throughout the universe at any time, in perpetuity… without any compensation to me whatsoever."

Participants also “represent and warrant” they’re in good health and have no medical, physical or emotional condition and agree not to take medication or drugs during filming.

They also sign an undertaking that they won’t run for public office for 12 months after their last scene is shot!

The document was authored by Sirens Project 1224, LLC., the Delaware-based production company behind The Real Housewives of New Jersey franchise.

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It exposes how reality television is REALLY made and proves what critics of reality television have often argued -- story lines are fake and don’t reflect what truly happened during filming.

Boldly, the agreement states the participant understands "that I am giving up certain legal rights under this agreement, including without limitation, my right to file a lawsuit."

It adds, "I agree that I will never sue Producer, Sirens Media, LLC (“Sirens Media”), NBCUniversal Media, LLC, Network or anyone because I do not like the manner in which Producer or its licensees or assignees took or used the Footage and Materials or used the Footage and Materials in the Program."

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And if the wannabe reality star breaches the terms and conditions of the deal, the consequences are severe -- a minimum $50,000 fine!

"Any breach by me of any of the confidentiality provisions of this Agreement would cause Producer and Network irreparable injury and damage that cannot be reasonably or adequately compensated by damages… therefore, I hereby expressly agree that Producer and Network shall be entitled to injunctive and other equitable relief," the document reads.

"Accordingly, I agree to pay Producer and Network the sum of Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50,000) per breach plus disgorgement of any income that I may receive in connection with my breach as liquidated damages in the event that I breach any of the confidentiality provisions of this Agreement."

It all begs the question: Why would someone sign away their life for fame or infamy?

According to the contract, participants "acknowledge and agree that a significant element of the consideration I am receiving… is the opportunity for publicity."



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