Several months ago I posted about an ad on our local Craigslist – a new ‘reality’ show looking for Americans who were struggling. FYI, I’m not going to name the show and won’t publish any comment that does. Well, I did respond to the ad, and when the producers called me, I sent in an application of sorts. We even went to LA at our own expense to have a videotaped interview. I don’t know where we were in the running – I believe they had a lot of responses from folks across the nation – but eventually I opted out.
The releases the producers wanted us to sign were very much weighted in their favor (we essentially would have given away all rights for nothing) and I did not foresee anything good coming of our participation. The show was going to be a web blog detailing your struggle. You agreed to allow cameras to film you as you blog for a year. The idea was that local people would respond to your struggles and help you out and the producer’s experts would offer advice that could benefit you.
However, each new release form became more intrusive and exploitative. There wasn’t any sort of guarantee that you would be better off at the end and I was really annoyed by the last release form which essentially said we would grant them all rights to our images and story forever and that they could alter or modify such, that we recognized the producer’s “substantial and valuable property rights” in our story and would not be able to discuss this story with anyone else ever and if we did we agreed to pay the producer $500k ” as a reasonable and fair amount of liquidated value to compensate the producers for any loss or damages”! Funny how it isn’t worth paying us anything for our story but if we agreed to intrusive filming for a year and said anything to anyone about an upcoming episode it would be worth half a million dollars to someone else. Oh, and by the way, the release also said we agreed we essentially had no recourse and even if portions of the release were found to be unenforceable it didn’t release us from the release!
So at that point I declined to sign and never heard another word from them! C’est la vie. I guess our 15 minutes of fame still awaits us.