CNN has obtained a document that will be of interest to anyone absorbed by the Bachelor In Paradise scandal which has dominated the news cycle for the past 10 days. Production has officially resumed after an internal investigation concluded that no on-set misconduct occurred between Corinne Olympios and DeMario Jackson — shutting down allegations that Jackson sexually assaulted Olympios, who may have been too intoxicated to consent. In the wake of that controversy, CNNMoney has scored a fascinating look into what, exactly, Paradise contestants are agreeing to when they sign up for the ABC series.
CNNMoney has obtained the contract for the current season of the Bachelor spinoff from a source close to the BIP production. The site also consulted a variety of attorneys and legal experts to help interpret the language of the contract and put its stipulations into context. Direct quotes from the contract and the conclusions that the legal analysts drew aren't pretty. Basically, once you sign the contract, you waive your right to refute or take legal recourse in regards to to whatever happens during filming and in the editing room.
Per the contract, participants give producers "the right to change, add to, take from, edit, translate, reformat or reprocess... in any manner Producer may determine in its sole discretion." Contestants also agree to being portrayed in a negative light thanks to editing — specifically, that "actions and the actions of others displayed in the Series may be disparaging, defamatory, embarrassing or of an otherwise unfavorable nature and may expose me to public ridicule, humiliation, or condemnation."
The contract also releases the producers from being responsible should a contestant be injured, "even if that injury comes from unwanted sexual contact," per CNNMoney — which, the site notes, potentially includes emotional trauma or an STD. It also contains language requiring contestants to "acknowledge that the producers do not encourage 'intimate or sexual' contact with other contestants on the show."
New York-based entertainment lawyer Nicole Page offered her bleak take on the contract (which she described as commonplace in the world of reality TV) to CNNMoney. From the point of view of a producer, the contract essentially means, "I can basically take your image and do whatever I want with it and I own it and you have no recourse."
But the legal experts consulted also noted that if a crime took place on the set, the enforcement of the law could take priority over the contract. Entertainment lawyer Josh Schiller explained, "If the contract requires you to release any claims you have that you were sexually assaulted, which is a crime, then the contract may or may not be enforceable under the public policy of the state of California [where this contract was drafted]." He added, "Law enforcement could get involved and bring charges ... would we want to enforce a contract that no one would be liable if they were filmed being sexually assaulted? That would create a real problem."