How It Might Have Happened: The ‘Say Yes’ Lawsuit

So this happened [via New York Daily News] …

A young Las Vegas woman who plans to be married in a lavish May ceremony lost her legal bid Thursday to stop “Say Yes to the Dress” from featuring her in an episode before she ties the knot.

Now, Say Yes is what I call an Aquisitional Reality (AR) show: a show that follows a regular person in the process of making a purchase – also think Pawn Stars and House Hunters.

An AR episode gives the impression that what you see is something that occurred organically in, say, a store, over a day or two. In point of fact, shows like this have pretty tight schedules, and they need to produce a season’s worth of television-worthy purchases. They simply can’t count on made-for-TV customers rolling in during their 12 hours of scheduled shooting. Certainly not customers with big personality; interesting background story; true committment to making a purchase; and, most importantly, network approval.

So they cast these folks in advance of shooting.

But sometimes people who have been cast simply don’t show. Such was the predicament Production apparently found themselves in on this occasion. So they trolled around the store to see if anyone else might be worth shooting with and found bride-to-be Alexandra Godino: gorgeous, marrying a sports star, and intent on buying an extremely expensive dress. In other words, perfect for TV.

The Daily News continues…

The producers told her the prospective bride they planned to film was a no show and asked her to fill in… [Godino] said yes, but only after the producers promised — in front of Godino’s mother Cindi and her fiancee, professional hockey player Jeff May — that they would not air the show until after her May 6 wedding.

Nonetheless, the episode is airing this Friday, the show denies there was a verbal agreement at all, and the Judge says it probably wouldn’t matter anyway, given the rock-solid, ’til-death-do-we-part nature of the Reality TV-standard waiver she signed.

Obviously, I have no idea what events transpired in this particular instance. But for an exercise, let’s take the bride at her word: she was approached by producers (or people she identified as such) and asked whether she’d be interested in participating; she was furthermore promised verbally that her purchase wouldn’t be screened before The Big Day.

If this is true, then how did the opposite happen? Most likely, despite the best intentions of Production.

Okay, back to the “producers” who approached Godino. Maybe she spoke to a producer. Maybe she spoke to a bona fide Executive Producer. Maybe she spoke to a green Associate Producer or even a Production Assistant. I’m not convinced she would know the difference. It’s not like we wear name tags and–ya gotta admit–our titles are confusing. The point is that she might have been getting a “verbal agreement” from someone who either was not actually in a position to make one, or who may not have realized the legal weight of the situation. But in either event this “producer” most likely thought the promise could be followed through on. I don’t believe anyone would deliberately set out to ruin Godino’s dream wedding.

The thing that most likely screwed Godino over is that she was caught on the wrong side of that Trumpian obstacle that we in the industry call The Wall Between Field and Post.

To explain: the way reality shows are scheduled, the people working in the Field (like the crew shooting at Kleinfeld) don’t often end up working in Post too (and v.v.); and for reasons that remain unclear to pretty much all of us in the business, communication between the two locations is usually pretty fucking abysmal no matter how many Excel documents you have (or perhaps because of how many Excel documents you have).

So it’s quite possible that, after an agreement was made, someone indicated somewhere in some report that the bride didn’t want her appointment shown before her May 6 wedding. And it’s also quite possible that the report, with its notation, was never seen in Post.

What Post probably did see, however, was an extremely attractive woman marrying a pro athlete and spending a lot of money ($40G, people) on a dress. All very exciting for television, and all likely to make her appointment play earlier in the season.

So… that’s one way it might have happened.

 

Prologue: Godino is suing for damages. Whatever those might be.

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