To appear on reality television shows, people sign long, detailed contracts that control their behavior before, during, and after a reality TV show’s production.
I’ve reported on several reality show contracts on reality blurred over the years, analyzing the contents, and noticing the similarities and differences between shows, whether they’re for broadcast networks, cable, or streaming. (My first such report was even challenged, though I prevailed.)
The seven contracts you can read below are not strictly NDAs, though they certainly have nondisclosure and confidentiality requirements—and often financial penalties for breaking those, though it’s questionable whether those penalties are enforceable.
Survivor’s contract has NDA elements related to the game and its winner, and among its 10 pages, asks players to agree they'll experience “severe mental stress" and not be able to "defame, disparage" the producers or CBS.
And then there's a separate contract their family members sign.
The Big Brother contract details everything from the houseguests' weekly stipend (which has since increased) to post-eviction interviews with Julie Chen Moonves. It also discusses the Big Brother's rules, and "twists of plot and elements of surprise."
The very first modern reality TV show's cast contract asks a lot of its cast, including that they agree to "the possibility of consensual and non-consensual physical contact, which could result in my contracting any type of sexually transmitted disease."
Live PD, which is coming back as On Patrol: Live on Reelz, signed contracts with police and sheriff's departments which gave law enforcement the ability to stop filming any time and edit footage before it was broadcast.
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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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