legal issues in "Joe Millionaire"

My roommate and I haven’t had any luck figuring this out, so we thought we’d ask here. We’re wondering:

  1. what, legally, does Fox have to reveal to the contestants about the suprise* in order to avoid liability? Do they have to tell them anything, or just that there’s a secret, or what?

  2. what did Fox actually tell them?

*For those of you with things to do besides watch reality TV, the premise of the show is that a group of women compete for a guy who has supposedly just inherited $50 million, but who really doesn’t have any money, which they will find out at the end of the series.


Cuz that’s fraud, right lawyer guys?

I imagine the contracts that the women sign to be on the show are about 500 pages long. I would bet that there’s a clause in there specifying that things can be changed and edited in the interest of good TV. One of those things is changing a poor shlub into a rich one. :slight_smile:

FOX isn’t getting anything out of the women, so I imagine it can’t be fraud. I imagine the contract the women signed didn’t mention anything about Joe’s supposed millions, just that they got to be on a “The Bachelor” type show.

If the women on the show are dumb enough to take part in such a shallow and unintelligent television show, I doubt they were smart enough to think that there was a shade being pulled over their eyes. I’m sure FOX gave them some sort of verbal or written indication (obviously a VERY subtle one of course) that something would change. As mentioned before, it’s likely that this was mentioned in a ridiculously long contract that was signed without close scrutiny.

Yeah, what Superspy said.

And how do you know they don’t know, you only have their and Fox’s word for it. Lying to get the ratings up probably isn’t unheard of in the TV industry.

And anyway taking part in something as stupid as a show like this and not figuring something strange is going on is like going on the Jerry Springer show and expecting good news. Come on now, a guy that looks like he does and is RICH, RICH, RICH is going to to on Fox to peddle his butt.

I posted this on a different thread too. One of the contestants is a friend of a good friend of mine. My wife actually met her a couple of times prior to the taping of the show. They were told that they were going to be on a “Sex in the City type reality show to see if 20 attractive, young professional women could find love in Europe.” They weren’t told that it was a marry a millionaire show or even that they were in a competition for just one guy. This information comes from a brief email that she sent to her entire address book a couple of weeks ago. She may be revising history a bit for all I know. She also said that they were totally fooled. She is kind of embarrassed about the whole thing but seems to be taking it in good humor.


Hmmm. If what hajario relates is fairly accurate, it sounds like “Joe” himself would have been the one to bring up the million dollars. Lying in and of itself is not a crime, and I imagine he was well coached on what he could and could not say to avoid liability, so he’s likely off the hook. And while I don’t know what Fox would have had to do in order to cover their butt, I have no doubt they did it. Having Joe instead of Fox mention the [nonexistent] money may have been a clever and effective way to keep Fox out of trouble.

hajario sheds some light there in that they didn’t know the guy was a (fake) millionaire until they were already signed up and driving up to his castle. If they weren’t promised they had a shot at a millionaire in the first place, they really can’t come back and say they were defrauded.

May God forgive me for probably watching this show.

Why is “lying” considered “fraud”? I don’t think they are the same thing, legally. At no point in the contract, AFAIK, did FOX promise these women that millions of dollars were involved.

You’re right, Munch. Fraud is lying, but lying isn’t necessarily fraud. You hit on what apparently the contract was in your first post.

I should add that she did the show because she is an aspiring actress who wanted the exposure and thought it would be a lark, not to actually find love.


Trust me- they signed the “death star” of releases before they were allowed on the show.

Altough if it was filmed in France, and an action was brought in France under French law I have no clue if such an action could be sustained.

In the U.S. the golddiggers would appear to be unlikely to get far.