What’s it like to be on The Real Housewives of New Jersey? If this contract is believed, horrifying. Absolutely horrifying.
Radar Online, which is starting to rival TMZ when it comes to getting their grubby paws on weird documents, recently managed to acquire an “Appearance Release Form, Arbitration Provision, and Voluntary Participation Agreement” for the Bravo reality show. Authored by Sirens Project 1224, LLC, which produces The Real Housewives of New Jersey, it’s presumably NOT the contract used for the main cast; rather, you’d sign it if you were anyone else who might possibly be appearing on the show at any time, ever. The five-page monstrosity requires participants to agree to 17 items—if you want to read the whole thing, check it out here; but in the meantime, let’s break down a few of the highlights by comparing the legalese with the real life translation of what it actually means:
LEGALESE: “I understand that SIRENS PROJECT 1224, LLC (‘Producer’) is producing the television program tentatively entitled ‘The Real Housewives of New Jersey’ (the ‘Program’), and that the Producer would like for me to voluntarily participate in the production of the Program by engaging in the following activity or activities: All activities associated with my participation in the Program, including without limitation, activities that may be hazardous (the ‘Activity’).” (Item 1)
TRANSLATION: This is what makes me think that this particular contract is used for friends, acquaintances, randos with whom any of the main cast get in altercations, and so on, because we’re aware that the stars of the show make bank doing it. If, however, you appear on Real Housewives and you’re NOT one the stars, you’re not a performer. You’re not even an employee. You’re a volunteer. And what do volunteers get? Not paid, that’s for sure. Indeed, later on as part of item 5, “volunteers” must agree that “my appearance in the Program is not a performance and is not employment and is not subject to any union or guild collective bargaining agreement, and does not entitle me to wages, salary, corporate benefits, unemployment or workers’ compensation benefits, or other compensation under any such collective bargaining agreement or otherwise”; and just in case you didn’t already get it, item 7 consists of the following: “I understand that I will not be paid for participating in the Activity, for appearing in the Program, in the Advertisements, and in the Footage and Materials…. I hereby waive any and all rights I may have to any compensation whatsoever.”
LEGALESE: “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.” (Item 1)
TRANSLATION: I think we all know that reality programs edit their footage to create the most drama possible—but did you know that they could dub over what you said while shooting that footage to make it sound like you said something else? I didn’t. And the idea HORRIFIES me.
More icktastic contract clauses up next!