Reality Kicks In

Have you ever wondered why anyone signs up to look stupid on “reality” TV shows? OK, fame and fortune are possibilities – but you’re definitely going to be the butt of a lot of jokes. You can’t possibly think one of those shows that supposedly follows your life is going to make you look good.

Could you?

Well, maybe you could.

At least that’s what a plastic surgeon claimed in a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles last week against NBCUniversal Media and the producers of a series called “Second Wives.”

You and I, being sane people and consumers of television, know that anyone on a show called “Second Wives” is not going to be a role model. Otherwise, we wouldn’t watch.

But the surgeon plaintiff — “one of the most respected and prestigious surgeons in the country” who has also “been deeply involved in pro bono work” — said this didn’t occur to him.

Perhaps he was too busy being a hero and had never seen a reality series.

So the plaintiff signed his TV contract after being told “that the series was about and was only about plaintiff and Veronika’s happy marriage, not intended to ridicule, humiliate and/or disparage” him.

Then reality kicked in.

Fair enough. Maybe the guy’s got a case, if he was misled.

But was he? I don’t know, but the nice thing about this lawsuit being filed is that we get to see, as an attachment, an example of the sort of contract that a reality show participant signs.

It’s kind of astonishing.

Here are a few brief excerpts:

“I understand that my appearance, depiction, and portrayal in connection with the Presentation, and my actions and the actions of others, may be disparaging, defamatory, embarrassing or of an otherwise unfavorable nature, may expose me to public ridicule, humiliation or condemnation, and may portray me in a false light.”

“Producer has no obligation to me whatsoever.”

And, in a paragraph written entirely in capital letters to make it look official or something:


It’s kind of like giving up your citizenship to serve your television overlord.

People actually sign these things!

And then sue anyway.


Another Reality: Now that we’re in the age of “alternative facts,” I have to say I was a little unnerved by this headline on a press release last week: “Specialized Expertise Often More Important Than Cost In Use of Alternative Legal Service Providers.”

Now we have lawyers that aren’t real?

Apparently so.

The release announced the findings of yet another study conducted for no apparently useful reason. We now know – or at least the authors of the report say they know – that more than half of law firms and corporations use these providers instead of lawyers to do things like conduct discovery, review documents, or help with regulatory compliance (all of which sounds pretty lawyerly to me).

I’m not sure why we need to know this, unless someone is planning a mass roundup of people practicing law without a license. Maybe they’re telling us that going to law school is a waste of time because we can do all this “alternative” stuff.

It’s a good way to avoid all that student debt.

Be that as it may, what I really want to point out is yet another example of astounding news story illustration.

This is what accompanied the American Bar Association Journal website story on the report:

Maybe there’s some hidden meaning here.

Could alternative legal service providers be coming out of the closet?

If so, it’s about time.


Caption of the Week:

This lawsuit could be worth billions.

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