'Storage Wars' suit raises doubts about reality TV
One former cast member says he was fired after complaining about its authenticity. These programs generate millions of dollars in ad revenue for their networks.
Dave Hester, the man whom "Storage Wars" fans love to hate, claims in a blockbuster lawsuit that he was fired from the hit TV show after complaining that it was faked. This case should make viewers and investors question what is "real" on reality television.
"Storage Wars" follows the adventures of a group of people in Southern California who buy abandoned storage lockers in the hopes of making a profit from the contents inside after only getting a brief glimpse of them before the auction starts. It is hugely popular, attracting the 8th biggest audience this year among basic cable shows in the coveted 18- to 49-year-old demographic, according to TV by the Numbers.
The show wasn't what it appeared to be, according to Hester's lawsuit, which claims producers paid for one of the show's female cast members to have plastic surgery to enhance her sex appeal. An A&E spokesperson couldn't be reached and Hester didn't return an email sent through his website. The network's parent, A&E Television Networks, is a joint venture between Walt Disney (DIS) and the Hearst Company.
"Defendants regularly salt or plant the storage lockers that the subject of the auctions portrayed in the series with valuable or usual items to create drama and suspense for the show," the lawsuit says. "The producers of the series have scheduled appraisals of items in storage lockers several weeks before they are supposedly 'discovered' by a cast member who wins a particular auction."
"Storage Wars," which has spawned spinoffs in Texas and now New York as well as rivals such as "Auction Hunters," has turned a once-sleepy industry on its head. Attendance at auctions has skyrocketed because of the shows, as has the prices the contents in the units are fetching. Though the furor has died down some, these programs still generate millions of dollars in ad revenue for their networks.
Some in the collectable world have long been suspicious of "Storage Wars," partly because storage lockers mostly contain mundane household items. While people do occasionally score cool, valuable finds at auctions, those are the exceptions rather than the rule. Most people have enough sense to move their pricey mementos out of a locker if they fall behind on their rent.
A&E is the sister network of the History Channel, home to two other collector show hits. "Pawn Stars" chronicles a family-run pawn shop in Las Vegas and the stars of "American Pickers" scour the backroads of America looking for hidden treasures. Though I am a fan of both shows, they make the business of buying and selling antiques to be much easier than it is in real life.
"Pawn Stars" lately has been testing my patience. A recent episode featuring Rick Harrison blowing $13,000 on a fake autograph of an illiterate baseball legend seemed far fetched, to say the least. Harrison seems far too smart to make such a costly blunder. Viewers of "American Pickers" may get the idea that stars Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz are partners in the Antique Archeology business featured on the show, but Wolfe, however, owns the company and Fritz runs his business operations separately. Spokespersons for the History Channel refused to answer questions about the shows for this article.
It's too soon to say if Hester's lawsuit will cause any damage to A&E or to collectors' shows in general. Media analyst Brad Adgate of Horizon Media said advertisers won't care about the allegations as long as the show's ratings don't suffer.
"They obviously have a formula that is working," he said.
More from Money Now
- Fed promises low rates until job picture improves
- Elizabeth Warren named to Senate's banking committee
- The fiscal cliff is the biggest Grinch of all
The fact that the man was fired shows that the people are employees, not bystanders.
my whole reality just came crashing down...
next they'll be telling me Honey Boo Boo isn't really poor white trash.
I figured it was mostly staged, every locker always seems to have that one item that made the purchase worth it. Way too many winners for REAL T.V......
All staged !!! You cannot have true "reality" when you are surrounded by camera's. All these shows should be axed. Totally
He told me the most prized thing he ever found were lions and tiger skins and he has to give that up is it was iligal to own in the first place The rest was junk he siad.
All these so called reality shows are staged and faked period every single one.
This show started out with the lockers being reasonably bought for a few hundred $.......and now they go upwards to $1000.00. I would like to know just how far behind they (the renters) were and who profits...the autioneer or the storage company.....and who in the world is going to buy that crap for what the "buyers" (Dave, Darrel, and good old Barry etc.) say they can get for it? It is crap! Don't put things in storage if you cannot one day get it out!
One of the main things we all see clearly about Reality Shows... the sociopaths in them are all dysfunctional in real life. Tattoos Motorcycles Gator Hunting Chopping Down Trees Freezing in Alaska for Gold Nuggets Bounty Hunting Ghost Imagining... do I need to list more?
I admire Dave Hester (although I am not a fan of him) for bringing up the topic that the show was rigged. As I watch those types of shows I have increased by skepticism that they were genuine In fact, I consider it all bad acting and obnoxious showboating. Reality? Hardly. Do ever wonder how the camera man is already in the barn or house before Mike and Frank arrive? Or the Harrison's can get experts at the shop that soon? How about Storage War bid winners finding money in the unit? Wouldn't the renter use the money to pay its rent? Don't get me started on the Duck Dynasty morons. I predict the viewing public will catch on and this television program genre will fade.
Copyright © 2013 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.
Reports say the generous benefactor behind the huge gratuities is a former PayPal executive.
- Chinese investors are buying up Detroit
- Mega Millions jackpot hits $344 million
- 5 reasons to think twice about a balance transfer card
- Will I have to pay taxes because of a foreclosed home?
- 5 things that won't affect your credit scores
- The 7 deadly sins of winter driving
- 8 questions to ask before Mom and Dad move in
- High deductibles fuel new worries of Obamacare sticker shock
- How to use your credit card to donate to charity
[BRIEFING.COM] The major averages spent the entire session in a steady downtrend, but despite persistent selling pressure, today's losses were limited in scope. The Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq shed between 0.2% and 0.3% while the Russell 2000 lagged, falling 0.9%.
The underperformance of the Russell 2000 was likely owed in part to tax-loss selling, which tends to pick up this time of year. Small-caps often feel that pinch in a stronger fashion than large-cap issues since individual ... More
More Market News
John Stumpf acknowledges that growth has been slow, but he says he's still optimistic.