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Reality TV has been accused of altering reality on more than one occasion. This time however, it seems the situation requires legal action. Sally Hessnice, a contestant on Fox's The X-Factor in 2013 has filed a $2 million lawsuit saying that her performance was changed in order to make her look bad.
According to Deadline the lawsuit has been filed against FremantleMedia North America, Simon Cowell’s Syco Television and Blue Orbit Productions, all producers of the US version of The X-Factor. The legal phrasing of the complaint, which was filled in Los Angeles Superior Court, is that the performance was modified “to create a false and negative portrayal” but you get the picture. It’s a violation of US law to fix a contest, and Hessnice and her attorneys are arguing that the producers intentionally changed her performance in order to make sure she would lose.
Hessnice also wants to be sure that her performance is never aired again on The X-Factor. This should not be an issue as the show was canceled over a year ago. Slightly harder to accomplish, even should she win, is to have clips of her song removed from online media sites like YouTube. On the off chance that part of the lawsuit is successful you may want to see what all the fuss is about while you still can:
The plaintiff did sign a release, which would have allowed the producers to do what they wished with her performance, but Hessnice says she signed it under duress and the complaint also wants to see the release invalidated.
Lawsuits are nothing new to reality TV. It isn’t even the first time Simon Cowell has had to deal with legal troubles on his shows. Most of the time however, the legal issues have more to do with being kept off the show, rather than what happens once you get on.
It will be interesting to see if this actually goes anywhere. Often, these lawsuits are simply settled, or dropped outright, and then never heard from again. While it looks like most of the musical contest shows are on their way out, they make ratings based on the idea that if you have the talent and do your best, you’ll win. If that turns out to provably be untrue then all the luster left will likely be gone. Would a successful lawsuit here actually change anything on reality TV, or does this complaint not say anything we didn't already know?