New Mexico investigating Kid Nation production; 22-page contract revealed

Following a parent’s complaint and allegations of labor law violations, CBS’ Kid Nation is being investigated by authorities, even though the show finished taping on May 10.

Yesterday, “the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office confirmed it was launching an investigation into whether state laws were broken during the production, and child activists called for individual states to investigate whether the families violated truancy laws,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

A spokesperson for the attorney general’s office said, “Information is being evaluated now and reviewed in light of all the interest in this. We are determining what our next move will be or even if there will be one. Even though it seems it’s kind of a moot point, there are a lot of things to look into that we could still address.”

Meanwhile, the show’s 22-page contract, signed by the parents of the kids who participated, has been published by The Smoking Gun. While many parts seem like standard reality show contract clauses, others are more kid-specific. The Smoking Gun runs down a few of those, like the reminder that “participants ‘will have no privacy,’ except when they are in the bathroom. Provided, of course, that the child is actually ‘in the process of showering, bathing, urinating, or defecating.'” In other words, if kids are talking in the bathroom, cameras will follow.

Most interesting may be the first two lines, written in all caps for effect. The first demands, “Do not sign this unless you have read, understood, and agreed to it in its entirety.” And the second gives the show’s working title: “The Manhattan Project,” which was also the nickname of the World War II project that developed the nuclear bomb. How exactly nuclear weapons may or may not figure into the series is not yet clear.

New Mexico attorney general looking into possible ‘Kid Nation’ violations [Los Angeles Times]
No Human Rights In “Kid Nation” [The Smoking Gun]

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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.