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Bachelorette villain ordered to pay producers $120,000

Bachelorette villain ordered to pay producers $120,000
Luke Parker during The Bachelorette season 15's "Men Tell All" reunion (Photo by John Fleenor/ABC)

A reality TV show has successfully enforced its contract, punishing one of its contestants for talking to the media and making “negative or disparaging” comments. That show: The Bachelorette. The contestant: Luke Parker, aka Luke P., the villain on Hannah Brown’s season of the ABC dating show.

Cast members on reality shows sign incredibly restrictive contracts (see Survivor’s cast contract, Big Brother’s cast contract, and RuPaul’s Drag Race’s cast contract for three examples). But I cannot recall a single public example of a reality show successfully making a contestant pay a production company because they violated terms of the contract.

NZK Productions, Bachelor creator Mike Fleiss’s production company, which produces the franchise for Warner Bros., was awarded “$100,000 in damages and another $20,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs” by an arbitrator back in May, MyNewsLA first reported. The arbitrator found that the contract “banned Parker from making unauthorized uses or disclosures of any information or events he witnessed or learned as a contestant and from making any negative or disparaging remarks about the series and its principals, employees or affiliates,” but he “disclosed facts and/or made negative remarks about the show and its producers.” The arbitrator “enjoined Parker, who lives in Georgia, from making any further negative statements about the series.”

On Sept. 30, a judge approved those damages. It was case number 20STCP02088, NZK Productions versus Luke Parker, and a court record for the Sept. 30 proceeding says:

“Respondent [Luke Parker] entered into an agreement with Petitioner [NZK Productions] that prevented him from making media appearances without petitioner’s consent, which Respondent violated. A JAMS arbitrator found in Petitioner’s favor and awarded them $100,000 in damages. Petitioner filed this unopposed motion to confirm the arbitration award.”

The court records are below. NZK Productions’ petition to confirm the amount awarded in arbitration includes the arbitrator’s final decision, which says Luke “is restrained and enjoined from”:

(a) Disclosing or discussing any information or trade secrets obtained or learned as a result his participation in the Series, including without limitation the casting process, contestants, filming or method(s) of production, behind the scenes information, events contained in or outcome of the Series, and/or information about the producers, staff, crew, consultants or counsel for the Series.

(b) Making and/or causing others to make any negative or disparaging representation, statement or other form of communication of any nature, whether oral or written, to any person, entity, or media representative regarding the Series and/or its principals, employees or affiliates.

(c) Through July 30, 2020, making media or press contact, or media or press appearances, whether or not regarding Respondent’s appearance on the Series, without the prior authorization of Claimant.

Luke P., called ‘a narcissistic, cantankerous misogynist’, defended himself in interviews

The Bachelorette

On The Bachelorette 15, Luke P. was the villain, even popping up again after he’d been sent home by Hannah Brown.

I’m certainly not going to defend Luke P, whose behavior on the show ranged from confrontations with other men to slut-shaming Hannah to that disturbing reappearance. (Of course, his return was 100 percent orchestrated by producers, and his behavior on the show was edited.)

But I find it very disturbing that a production company connected to Warner Brothers and ABC—which already make millions and millions of dollars by manipulating people and turning them into entertainment and tabloid fodder—would be so petty and punitive that it’d not just be content with trashing a contestant on a national stage, but now is forcing him to pay for attempting to defend himself.

The fact that multi-million dollar corporations profit off of people and then won’t even let them talk about their experiences seem, I don’t know, somewhat imbalanced. Why wouldn’t they want reality show cast members to talk freely about their experience? Do they have something to hide?

Luke P. certainly did not come off well on The Bachelorette. During the “Men Tell All” reunion, Mike Johnson said, according to People’s transcript, “I think that you are a narcissistic, cantankerous misogynist. I think that you are beyond cocky to the point to where you don’t care what no one else says. I feel that you were not fighting for her. … You were fighting over her. I think that your future wife is going to be a prisoner with you if you don’t know how to change.”

So what exactly were the “facts and/or made negative remarks about the show and its producers” that Luke made that so horrified the producers that they took him to arbitration to enforce their contract?

It’s unclear. The petition filed with the court says that, “In September and October, 2019, in breach of the Exclusivity Provision, Respondent made at least four media appearances without Claimant’s authorization and in contravention of Claimant’s instructions. In each of those four appearances Respondent disclosed Series Information and/or made negative remarks about the Series and its producers, in breach of the Confidentiality Provision.”

I searched for interviews Luke did during that time and found these two:

  • September 2019, Luke gave “a tell-all interview on a faith-based YouTube channel, Paul and Morgan” and “[blamed] editing, miscommunication and his own insecurities as the reasons why she sent him home after their shocking sex talk,” Fox News reported.
  • October 2019, Luke was on Reality Steve’s podcast, and shared “perspective of where his head was at during a lot of filming, and maybe some of the things you didn’t see because they weren’t shown which may help explain some of his actions,” Steve wrote. His podcast episode.

The Reality Steve interview was repeatedly referenced in other stories generated many headlines.

Earlier, in July, “Mike Parker, Luke’s brother told [Fox News’s Todd Starnes] that ABC intentionally edited important segments of the show that indicated early on Ms. Brown shared the same beliefs about sex that his brother had,” Starnes reported, and said that Luke’s family was “outraged over ABC’s campaign to portray the 24-year-old as an evil, pathological liar, misogynist and psychopath – simply because he follows the Bible’s teachings regarding sex and marriage.”

Perhaps there was a defamatory bombshell that Luke dropped in one of these interviews or elsewhere that really needed to be defended. Or perhaps the producers of The Bachelorette just wanted to send a clear message to other contestants: Don’t challenge us, or we’ll come for you.

This story was updated on Oct. 13, 2020, with court documents and language from them.

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart

    Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

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