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Austin Actors
Jeff Nightbyrd

Reality TV - Get Paid!
by Jeff Nightbyrd

January 2003

Networks are increasingly turning to prime time "reality" show to save money. A decent reality show should charge around $200,00- $250,000 per 30-second ad. The American Idol show was getting about $425,000 for a 30-second spot toward the end.

The question is why should talent work prime time television for free? The obvious answer is they shouldn't. Those who are part of Acclaim Talent received an email I sent out about what agents and lawyers thought of the American Idol contract. In brief, industry insiders thought it was the most exploitative contract in the history of television. The winner pre-signed away her appearance on the upcoming World Idol series for $1,500. Her record contract was equally exploitative. Kelly is basically in legal bondage.

Actors who read this list perform in independent and digital films to get the exposure and experience to do Hollywood movies and prime time television. Not the other way around. One should not donate their time and sign away their rights for no pay (or the slim chance of winning a prize) on prime time television so they can move forward to do Indy films in Austin for free. That's backwards.

Your time and talent is valuable. If they produce a network show and sell expensive advertising then they can pay the talent that appears on the show standard television rates. This production company wouldn't come to Austin looking for talent if it was that easy to get the right actors in New York for a prime time show like this.

I should add that I have negotiated with other Reality Shows who always insisted nobody is paid. I argue that I have talented actors and if Hollywood movies and national advertisers will pay them then I will only send talent if they guarantee an appearance fee. In the end, in every case, the network production companies have agreed to these appearance fees.

Hope these thoughts are helpful.

Jeffrey Nightbyrd
Director
Acclaim Talent

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