Legal Question in Entertainment Law in California

Big Brother Reality Show-- winners splitting the money

Hi, Can CBS legally prevent the Big Brother winner from splitting the money with other contestants as a strategy to make it to the end? If so, if they made a verbal agreement to split it (while taping) is that binding? Also, if the contract prohibits it and they did make a verbal agreement on tape is that binding? Thanks so much for your response :)

Asked on 9/01/06, 11:32 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Christopher M. Brainard, Esq. C. M. Brainard & Associates - (310) 266-4115

Re: Big Brother Reality Show-- winners splitting the money

Interesting question, I must say. Well, I think the answer is "yes," CBS can legally forbid you to attempt to circumvent the game by contracting to share the money and if they know you had done it, they could refuse to pay you. I'm not going to go do a lot of research, but I will give you some of my insight and analysis off the top of my head. As and between the contestants, the promise to share the money is probably not binding and cannot be legally enforced. The promisee in this context knows that the contract prohibits the agreement and therefore has unclean hands based on fraud and/or tortious interference with contract -- thus, they cannot enforce the promise against the promisor when she most likely decides not to pay. Further, by making the promise on tape they have breached the agreement and neither of them can legally enforce CBS to pay out. If they secretly make the agreement, the analysis is the same and again the promisee has no method of enforcing the agreement on the grounds of unclean hands. If they secretly agree, and the promisor chooses to secretly pay... well, looks like they got away with it, but you would have to think that the promisor would probably not keep an illegal promise to pay when to do so risks it all and to honor the legal promise not to pay keeps him/her the money. So there you go.

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Answered on 9/02/06, 1:35 am

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