April 19, 2011 3:20pm PT by Matthew Belloni
'Glee' Spoiler Leads Fox to Consider Changing Contracts to Punish Leaks
The fallout from a Glee extra revealing key spoilers via Twitter could impact the way some TV contracts are drafted.
Nicole Crowther, a day player on the hit Fox musical, came under fire this week for sharing the names of the prom king and queen in an upcoming episode. In response, Glee co-creator Brad Falchuk quickly took to Twitter to slam Crowther, writing “hope you’re qualified to do something besides work in entertainment…Who are you to spoil something talented people have spent months to create?”
But according to a source close to the show, the standard SAG day-player contracts Glee uses don’t contain “NDA” (non-disclosure agreement) language providing for punishment when plot secrets are revealed. So while the studio and network might never hire a leaking extra again, the legal ramifications of spilling secrets are probably less serious.
That surprised us, frankly, and it could soon change. An insider at Glee producer 20th Century Fox Television tells us the studio is considering amending all of its talent deals -- from series regulars to day players like Crowther -- to include strict punishments for blabbing online.
If so, 20th wouldn’t be the only Hollywood studio to crack down on leaks via social networks. As we reported 18 months ago, a growing number of studio deals contain new language aimed at plugging leaks of disparaging or confidential information about productions via Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and the rest.
In October 2009, we revealed a contract from Disney that includes a clause forbidding confidentiality breaches via “interactive media such as Facebook, Twitter, or any other interactive social network or personal blog.” At the time, ABC had recently issued guidelines for tweeting while working on network shows, rules that included seven prohibited actions (including revealing spoilers).
We wouldn’t be surprised if liquidated damages provisions were added to Glee deals, meaning the studio could collect a pre-set amount of money from an offending leaker (and, more likely, prevent them from leaking in the first place out of fear).
Hollywood is getting wise to the power of online media. The prom king on Glee might not impact national security, but it makes sense for studios to enact consequences for spoiling its heavily-guarded plot secrets.