Leon Etienne and Romy Low finished in lucky number 13th place in Season Eight of "America's Got Talent". Their road to fame didn't come overnight. It took two years from the first contact until they appeared on AGT. Leon talks on this podcast about a lot of stuff people might like to know whether or not you have aspirations to ever appear as a "reality" show contestant.
While I was at the 2014 F.F.F.F. convention, I sat down with Leon to chat about getting on AGT, why he wanted to do it, why others should try it, behind the scenes, reality show contracts, doors opened by his appearance on this show, and more. He also talked about creating illusions, his future plans, and four-walling in Las Vegas among other topics. We covered a lot of ground during this podcast that runs just a little over a half hour.
Not all contestants have the same experience or stories to tell as we hear from Leon. If you are interested in what you might expect, then you will be interested in reviewing the contract that people who audition must sign. You can view that contract here: http://www.performers.net/junk/agreement.pdf
As reported in the New York Post, "Once a person is chosen for the show, they are required to allow producers to shape their personal background however they want, even if the stories they present to the public are not true, according to the contract. Producers are also allowed to “trick, exploit and embarrass” contestants during the course of the show, without fear of the contestants being able to sue them. In addition, the contestants are put on a “Talent Hold” for one year after the show, which forbids them from trying to get new publicity or endorsement deals from anyone but NBC."
Among the more onerous provisions of the contract, you will find:
- Producers or NBC can force a contestant to participate in an additional reality show for up to one year after they appear on ‘AGT.’ Contestants may not go on any other reality show for a year after taping ends.
- If an act is disqualified, “Producer and the Network may make any explanation or announcement, on-air or otherwise…as to the reason why.” (So basically, they can say tell the public whatever they want about why the act was disqualified…even if it’s not true.)
- Camera crews from the show can follow contestants anywhere they want– even into the bathroom! Contestants must agree to allow cameras into “any other area in which a person under other circumstances might have a reasonable expectation of privacy.”
- If the voting system “fails,” producers get to decide which contestants advance and which ones get sent home. Contestants may not challenge the producers’ decision.
- Producers may disqualify a contestant for “no reason at all.” Producers can also disqualify them if they decline to sign any other documents that the producers may come up with at a later date.
- Contestants are not allowed to take any personal photos during the show without getting permission from the producers.
So just be aware of what you are doing, what your signing and why you are agreeing to audition. As Leon (and others say), you should have a plan and an end game in mind as to why you want to get the notoriety. Just keep in mind that the notoriety that you receive might not always be good!
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