CBS offers suspects t-shirts, cash to appear on camera for Armed & Famous celebrity reality show

CBS’s upcoming reality series Armed & Famous, which features c-list celebrities such as Erik Estrada and La Toya Jackson training and working as police officers in Muncie, Ind., is currently in production. In order to ensure that everyone the celebrities interact with are visible on camera, the network is compensating suspects, but they’re not exactly breaking open Viacom’s vault to do so.

Instead, “producers are using T-shirts and money to persuade criminal suspects to sign waivers that allow the show to broadcast their faces,” according to the Muncie Star Press. CBS spokesperson confirmed these unusual payments. Spokesperson Kelli Raftery said in a statement, “This release form has no effect or impact on the arrest or the bond. A nominal fee in exchange for a likeness release is not typical, but is certainly not unprecedented.”

However, the paper reports that there’s a “perception that the show was taking advantage of low-income residents,” although Muncie’s police chief denies that. “We are just going where we get called and policing like we would any other time. If you don’t want to be on TV, say ‘No,’” Joe Winkle said.

Worse, another man “has accused city police of holding him under arrest in an empty room at the Delaware County Jail, where he said they refused to officially book him until he signed the waiver,” the paper reports. The police chief “denied the allegation.”

Michael Quirk, the attorney for that man, says his client was offered an “I got arrested by a celebrity and all I got is this lousy T-shirt” shirt, but says his client “thought it was kind of insulting.” The paper reports that “Quirk also alleged that police and producers continued to question Vore after he asked for an attorney and that the producers refused to leave his property upon request.”

Quirk says, “I think the City of Muncie has set themselves up for embarrassment and lawsuits and all kinds of problems.”

‘Armed & Famous’ paying money to people arrested, some offered T-shirt [The Star Press]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.