Bravo is clapping back at accusations that the network silences its reality stars with non-disclosure agreements, after its parent company NBCUniversal received multiple letters warning legal action due to its mistreatment of unscripted talent.
The spotlight has brightened on the conglomerate’s treatment of its reality stars after “Real Housewives of New York City” alum Bethenny Frankel began to call for her former peers to unionize amid Hollywood’s historic double strike.
“Confidentiality clauses are standard practice in reality programming to prevent disclosure of storylines prior to air. They are not intended to prevent disclosure by cast and crew of unlawful acts in the workplace, and they have not been enforced in that manner,” a spokesperson for Bravo said in a statement to TheWrap.
“To be clear,” the statement continued. “Any current or former cast or crew is free to discuss and disclose any allegedly unlawful acts in the workplace, such as harassment or discrimination, or any other conduct they have reason to believe is inappropriate. We are also working with our third party production companies to remind all cast and crew that they are encouraged to report any such concerns through the channels made available by the production company so concerns can be promptly addressed.”
Bravo and NBCUniversal requires third-party producers to provide multiple ways to report misconduct. An individual with knowledge of the company told TheWrap there are production training protocols in place to provide information about reporting channels and hotlines that cast and crew can use to report inappropriate workplace behavior.
The statement comes after the release of letters from attorneys Bryan Freedman and Mark Geragos, who represent reality stars and crew of NBCUniversal subsidiaries, saying that the “unlawful” NDAs imposed by the entertainment giant “hide civil and criminal wrongs” that occurred on reality programs on NBC, Bravo Media, E! and CNBC.
“NBCUniversal has represented to the public that it requires its third-party production partners to comply with its own policies in an effort to stop harassment, discrimination and other illegal conduct,” Freedman wrote in the letter, dated Aug. 20. “Yet, for obvious reasons, it has turned a blind eye as these production partners enforce illegal nondisclosure agreements to hide civil and criminal wrongs.”
The letter alleged “hundreds or thousands” of people have stayed silent about workplace misconduct because of the NDAs, including instances of racism, sexism, sexual violence, revenge porn, child labor, forced intoxication, and physical, emotional and psychological abuse.
“To ensure silence, NBC has been wielding these contractual terms like a sword,” Freedman wrote, adding that as a result, the “culture of fear and silence is no doubt responsible, in part, for the disproportionate rate of suicide among reality tv participants.”
Freedman and Geragos’ first letter demanded that the company preserve records related to their reality television productions as they continue their investigation into pursuing legal action on behalf of their clients.
“NBCUniversal has two choices: lead by example or be forced into compliance,” the attorneys’ letter read. “In 2019, NBC News voluntarily released its employees from the nondisclosure agreements that had prevented them from sharing their experiences of sexual harassment and discrimination. This request is no different. We trust that NBCUniversal will do the right thing.”
Variety first reported Bravo’s response to the NDA allegations.