×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Reality check possible

FCC may go on 'Manhunt' after complaint is filed

A contestant from Par TV’s “Manhunt” on Tuesday filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission, marking the first time the regulatory agency has been asked to investigate allegations that a reality shows is staged or rigged.

Southern California’s Jacqueline Kelly said in a two-page letter to the FCC that she was wrongly “voted off” the series after “producer intervention” and “tampering.” Program airs on UPN.

It’s been more than four decades since the infamous quiz show scandal rocked the then-nascent TV industry, but few in Washington have forgotten the controversy, which culminated in Congress slamming the FCC for not monitoring the situation more effectively.

Since that time, FCC regulations have required broadcasters to disclose fully the material terms of a contest program and live by those terms.

Fairness questioned

“I have no doubt that as a contestant I was defrauded by Paramount’s initial representations as to the fairness of the game, their conduct of the game, which involved heavy manipulation by the producers and later in their attempts to get me to participate with the 12 other contestants in a fraud on the television viewing audience,” Kelly said.

Paramount execs admitted that minor tweaks were made after the show’s initial Hawaii shoot — but stressed that those changes had no impact on “Manhunt’s” contest elements.

“Additional footage, primarily first-person testimonials, was shot after the show completed its initial production in Hawaii to enhance production values,” a Paramount statement said. “This footage did not affect the outcome of the show in any way. In addition, a disclaimer aired in the program credits stating that ‘This program includes dramatic scenes intended for entertainment purposes only.’ ”

Kelly alleged that Par and UPN execs in January instructed co-executive producer Robert Jaffe — who has since left the show — to reshoot newly scripted, “false” scenes. ( Daily Variety, Aug. 16).

Scripted scenes

Sources said 12 of the show’s 13 contestants were asked to memorize a script and film new scenes months later in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park.

“These scenes were specifically to create fake storylines and misrepresent not only the rules of play and results of the play at the end of each day but also the stated prize,” Kelly said.

She maintains that several other contestants who participated in the reshoots and allegedly phony interviews were told that there wouldn’t be any prize money unless the show aired. And the show would never get on the air were it not for the reshoots, contestants were told, her complaint stated.

Other complaints

Contestants from other reality shows have echoed some of Kelly’s complaints, with “Survivor” player Stacey Stillman even filing a lawsuit against the show’s producers (who countersued).

But until now, the FCC has been left out of the mix.

Congress, which oversees the FCC, could by extension hold hearings on the issue. So far, there are no plans to do so, with lawmakers out of town for the August recess.

But alternative programming execs aren’t too concerned yet about a potential reality witch hunt on Capitol Hill.

“I’d be more concerned if it were a bigger show,” said one exec. “But it’s about guys shooting each other with paint guns. It was a 2 share.”

Reshoots legitimate?

Reality programming insiders said reshooting certain scenes is an acceptable practice — as long as it doesn’t affect the show’s outcome.

“The truth is, it’s our job to be as legitimate as we possibly can,” the exec said. “As for the reshooting of sequences, as long as it doesn’t affect the game, it’s a little cheap, but that’s it.”

The FCC had no comment on Kelly’s filing, saying it does not discuss pending complaints.

More TV

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Malik Yoba to Reprise Role in 'New York Undercover' Reboot at ABC

    Malik Yoba, who starred as Detective J.C. Williams in the 90s show “New York Undercover,” is set to reprise the role in the ABC reboot, sources tell Variety. Picking up 20 years after the end of the original series, “New York Undercover” will follow detectives Nat Gilmore and Melissa Ortiz as they investigate the city’s [...]

  • Chris Burrous dead KTLA anchor

    KTLA Anchor Chris Burrous' Cause of Death Released

    An investigative report on KTLA anchor Chris Burrous has determined that his cause of death was attributed to methamphetamine toxicity, according to the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office. Burrous, 43, was found unconscious at a motel in Glendale, Calif on December 27, and later died at the hospital. The death has been ruled as accidental. [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    'Crazy Rich Asians,' 'Late Show With Stephen Colbert' Win Publicity Campaign Awards

    Hollywood publicists have selected “Crazy Rich Asians” as the top movie publicity campaign for 2018 and “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” as the best television campaign. Warner Bros.’ “Crazy Rich Asians” topped the campaigns for Disney’s “Black Panther,” Fox’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Paramount’s “A Quiet Place,” Sony’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” and Universal’s “Halloween” for [...]

  • THE MASKED SINGER: Rabbit in the

    Live+3 Ratings for Week of Feb. 11: 'Masked Singer' Easily Tops Competition

    Fox’s “The Masked Singer” was the highest-rated broadcast show of the week in both Live+Same Day and Live+3. For the week of Feb. 11, the unscripted singing competition series went from a 2.4 rating in adults 18-49 to a 3.4, a rise of 42%. In total viewers, the show went from 7.8 million viewers to [...]

  • How the 'Rich Eisen Show' Mixes

    How the 'Rich Eisen Show' Mixes Sports and Showbiz in an Entertaining Mix

    Walking through the El Segundo studio where veteran sportscaster Rich Eisen tapes his daily “Rich Eisen Show,” the sheer density of sports memorabilia is overwhelming — everything from game balls to jerseys, gear, autographs and uncountable photos are crammed onto every inch of wall and desk space. But step into Eisen’s dressing room, and the [...]

  • Josh Cooke Castle Rock

    Josh Cooke Joins Katey Sagal in ABC Comedy Pilot 'Nana'

    Josh Cooke has been cast in a lead role in the ABC hybrid comedy pilot “Nana” opposite Katey Sagal, Variety has learned. Cooke will play Alex, a fire chief in Indianapolis who is a newly widowed single father of two girls. It’s clear that he is in over his head with the girls, but he [...]

  • Maggie Lawson

    Maggie Lawson to Star in Fox Comedy Pilot 'Geniuses'

    Maggie Lawson has been cast in one of the lead roles of the Fox multi-camera comedy pilot “Geniuses,” Variety has learned. The pilot follows a blue-collar couple in South Jersey trying to get by and raise four kids, three of whom just happen to be certified geniuses. Lon Zimmet will write and executive produce. Lawson will [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content