Reality TV fans are buzzing about a recent episode of “Kitchen Nightmares.” And because the show presents a slew of legal issues, InsideCounsel’s editors have been chatting about it too.
For those not familiar, Fox’s “Kitchen Nightmares” features the notoriously tough and foul-mouthed British chef Gordon Ramsay. In each episode, he visits a struggling restaurant, berates its mistakes and helps it get back on track with better management, safer sanitary practices, a new menu and updated décor.
One recent episode featured Amy’s Baking Co., a Scottsdale, Ariz., eatery with owners so crude they made Ramsay look like a saint. Cameras caught Amy and Samy Bouzaglo screaming and threatening their own customers, snatching up the wait staff’s tips and firing innocent employees. (We encourage you to watch the full episode—you won’t regret it.)
The episode is the first in “Kitchen Nightmares” history in which Ramsay walked away from a restaurant without having been able to help. To put it nicely, the Bouzaglos weren’t open to his criticism—which isn’t surprising, as one of their main complaints to Ramsay was the awful customer reviews they regularly receive on Yelp and Reddit.
After the show aired earlier this month, the couple took to Facebook to confront some viewers. As you can imagine, it didn’t go well, and the Bouzaglos later claimed their Facebook account was hacked (yeah, right!).
Yesterday, the Bouzaglos planned to host a press conference to talk about their “Kitchen Nightmares” experience and mark their restaurant’s reopening. But one brave partner at Davis Wright Tremaine, which represents the producer of “Kitchen Nightmares,” put a stop to it by reminding the Bouzaglos of their contractual obligations.
“We understand that you are planning a public event … at which you will discuss your experiences and your ‘unflattering portrayals’ on the show,” Davis Wright Tremaine Partner Alonzo Wickers wrote in a letter to the Bouzaglos. “If you speak about the show without [the producer’s] and Fox’s prior approval, and if you disparage the show, its host, or its producers, you will breach your obligations.” Wickers added that each Bouzaglo could be liable for $100,000 in liquidated damages.
So far, Davis Wright Tremaine’s legal threats have worked, as the Bouzaglos promptly canceled their press conference. But we’ll be sure to keep an eye on the drama that likely lies ahead.
Read Above the Law for more about the “Kitchen Nightmares” legal skirmish.
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