On April 12th, I got an email from a casting director (I’ll call her Ann) asking me to appear in a TV “docu-series”. She had read in my blog that I found a half-sister I had never known about and she wanted to use my story in a documentary she was making about family secrets.
Once I figured out, thanks to LinkedIn, that she was a legitimate professional, my inner “ham” took over and I agreed to participate.
I worked with Ann for more than a month. I persuaded my half-sister and other family members to participate. We had two long Skype interviews to make sure I was a reasonable candidate for TV. Finally, we set Tuesday for the taping to take place in New York at my 95-year-old sister’s apartment. Ann advised me not to wear all black, all white, prints or stripes.
On Monday, eight days before the taping, Ann sent me a release to sign, scan and email back to her. Well, it was a busy day at work, and I didn’t get to it.
That evening, my half-nephew called. He and his wife were going to participate in the documentary, and a film crew was flying to Minnesota the next day. He asked me if I had signed the release, and I said I hadn’t got around to it yet. He advised me to read it.
The release included phrases like:
I expressly waive any and all moral rights I may have in connection with my appearance…
It also said that they had the right to reveal information about me that was
…defamatory, disparaging, and/or embarrassing…
Needless to say, there were no rights for me.
I immediately sent Ann an email saying that I couldn’t sign the release. The producer called and said the release was standard and that I shouldn’t worry. She said that the lawyers would not change a word.
And so, thanks to the lawyers, it will not happen.
I felt very sad for the next 24 hours. And then I felt better. My sister and I have made plans to get together this summer to make up for the television-taping-that-didn’t-happen.