Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
When we learned from Lifetime that Project Runway was casting for their ninth season, we briefly fantasized about being a contestant: The fame without wealth, the sleep deprivation, the message board mockery. Who wouldn't want that? Then we remembered—we can't sew. Still, we decided to check out the application, just to see what's required of potential contestants. There we discovered an upsetting hint about the new season...or did we?
Within the twenty-five page application were the expected questions about the applicant's design experience, relationship status and possible criminal record. (Although Emelio Sosa's string bathing suit from Season Seven might be considered a crime, we're pretty sure that's not what they meant).
There were provisions quoting fines of up to a million dollars—any time a contestant breached the show's confidentiality agreement, and a section where they signed away their rights to, well, pretty much everything. Contestants were told they're not allowed to be a candidate for public office for up to one year after the series broadcasts—which hopefully saves us from ever having to watch Michele Bachmann make a tutu out of auto parts. Applicants were also asked if they knew anyone associated with the show, including a list of the finalists from all the Project Runway seasons—one through eight.
We presumed all of this was fairly standard in the reality contract world. But then we noticed the following:
The shooting of the Program is currently scheduled to be done in three (3) stages—the initial stage, the middle stage, and the final stage. The initial stage will last approximately four (4) weeks and will be shot in Los Angeles or such other location(s) (which may be domestic and/or international) as Producer designates in its sole discretion. You will need to be willing to travel to Los Angeles, CA (or such other city(ies) (which may be domestic and/or international) that Producer designates in its sole discretion) and live in a Los Angeles based home (or a home(s) based in another city(ies) (which may be domestic and/or international) that Producer designates in its sole discretion) with other contestants, for all or part of the initial stage.Live in Los Angeles? Did that mean Project Runway was going back to the home of its most disastrous season? We didn't think we could survive its return to a town whose contributions to fashion include Cher, Ed Hardy and ironic trucker hats.
But, just as we were getting ready to sit shiva, we spotted this:
...the contestant selection process will involve subjective decisions made by certain individuals selected by Producer and/or Network in their sole discretion, who may include, without limitation, fashion designers, Project Runway contestants from cycles one through five, and Tim Gunn.Cycles one through five? Those were the Bravo years, before the show moved to Bunim-Murray and Lifetime. We wondered why they would only use contestants from those seasons. until it hit us—perhaps the legal team had never updated these parts of the contract from Season Six. Maybe they added the last few season's finalists' names, but didn't bother to check over the rest of the contract, including the location for Season Nine.
So we're left wondering...Are we in for another painful Los Angeles season—or was this just a sloppy contract? We can only hope that members of the producers' legal team failed the bar a few times...
· Project Runway [Official Site]
· Project Runway Coverage [Racked]