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Is this "America's Got Talent" contract good to sign? It seems to be 'over the top' but maybe I'm wrong?

Columbus, OH |

I've recently been accepted to the "celebrity judge audition" phase of AGT. I'm a singer/songwriter. I've been asked to sign a contract. It seems to me that the contract pretty much strips me of all my rights and I'm hesitant to sign. Any advice? Some phrases from the contract that scare me (paraphrased): "if you are hurt or killed in connection with this show, EVEN if your injury or death are a result of GROSS NEGLIGENCE on our part- we cannot be held in any way responsible." Also mentions that they can "fictionalize" my biography in ANY way they see fit- even if it brings me "public humiliation." Will have to obey basically anything the producers tell me to say. There's much more. Would appreciate it if you'd read it over and give your two cents. Sign it or walk away?

Attorney Answers 4

  1. Best answer

    There is a third option.don't sign, but don't walk away.instead have an Entertainment lawyer review and try to negotiate something reasonable. AGT, VOICE, Idol,DWTS, etc all have very one-sided contracts since they have all the negotiating power. A great Entertainment lawyer might have connections to even things a little. I don't click on asker links.

    I am not your lawyer and you are not my client. Free advice here is without recourse and any reliance thereupon is at your sole risk. This is done without compensation as a free public service. I am licensed in IL, MO, TX and I am a Reg. Pat. Atty. so advice in any other jurisdiction is strictly general advice and should be confirmed with an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction.

  2. Congratulations -- I think :-) -- on getting this far in the proceedings. This area of AVVO is not for giving specific advice to anyone regarding a contract because that could bring up all kinds of professional responsibility issues. It's really just for general direction. Also, I'm with Bruce; I don't click on links, either. (There's a nasty ransomware virus going around.) From your post, it looks like a really awful contract. Now, it may be that the provision about gross negligence is invalid in some states, but as I have no idea which states or where you'll be in connection with the show.

    Go to an entertainment lawyer who has experience with "reality" shows, and have him or her review the contract. Maybe your lawyer will be able to negotiate some of the provisions away. Just know that reality shows have to create drama somehow, and it may be at the expense of a participant's public humiliation.

    If my answer was helpful to you, I would appreciate if you would mark it either "helpful" or "best answer" if you feel that applies, as AVVO gives us rating points based on feedback. Thank you! Please note that the above answer is not to be construed as legal advice. It is my personal opinion based on your question, and it was given without obtaining the detailed information that I would normally request in order to render comprehensive legal advice. I advise you to consult with a local attorney of your choosing to obtain specific legal advice. The fact that I answered your question does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and me.

  3. I agree with my colleagues. Welcome to show business, where nothing comes free of charge.

    You are smart to want an experienced lawyer to review your agreement before you sign on the dotted line. But that doesn't happen over a free public Q&A forum. You need to have a lawyer do that in private and yes it will cost something but it should not be cost prohibitive given the context.

    I suggest that you consult with a lawyer in private and discuss your objectives in more detail. You can start by calling around to several for a free phone consultation, get some insights then pick the best fit to work with.

    Best regards,
    Natoli-Lapin, LLC

    DISCLAIMER: this is not intended to be specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. No attorney-client relationship is formed with the law firm of Natoli-Lapin, LLC on the basis of this posting.

  4. In my past experience with a number of such shows, the odds of getting any changes in the agreement will be somewhere between zero and zero. Unless you get a really strong sense that they REALLY want you on the show, and then you might have a remote chance of getting some changes in the contract. Even then, the contracts are so overreaching that even if you get some changes in the contract, it will still be grossly overreaching.

    By the way, with most of these shows, it's not just one contract, but a package of contracts, one for the show itself, then a recording agreement, a publishing agreement, etc etc. which you will be stuck with if you're a contest winner (and sometimes even if you're not the winner).

    Also, most such contracts contain a clause to the effect that if you complain publicly about the contract or disclose the terms of the contract, you are subject to a 5 million dollar stipulated damages clause.

    The above is not intended as legal advice and does not constitute the creation of an attorney-client relationship, as this forum does not provide for a confidential communication. Furthermore, the attorney's answer above is intended to be general information only, and there may be facts not contained in the question which could change the answer, so the answer above should not be relied upon without first obtaining legal advice from your own attorney.

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