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Undercover Boss already causing controversy (UPDATE)

by Allison Waldman, posted Jan 11th 2010 11:36AM
cbs_undercover_bossUndercover Boss is the hot new reality series from CBS, so hot that the network is going to give the show a premiere after the Super Bowl broadcast. That pretty much guarantees a huge opening Nielsen rating. Having seen a screener of the program, I think it will be a hit. It's very effective. However, there's another reason the show will be a success. From the economic point of view, CBS will make a lot of money from Undercover Boss because most of the participants won't be paid. This is according to a story in the New York Post.

That's right, only the executives on Undercover Boss are paid for being on camera. All the workers shown in the program, the people who are unaware that the boss is by their side experiencing every aspect of the business, do not receive compensation for appearing on camera.

UPDATE: CBS has contacted TV Squad to report that... "No one in the company is being paid for their participation on Undercover Boss. Neither the employees, the executives nor the companies receive compensation for participating in the show."

The workers appearing on the program have signed releases to be in a documentary film, not a television show. Presumably, that means it's not covered by AFTRA which requires minimum payments for TV appearances.

Undercover Boss producers have labeled the show a "formatted documentary" instead of a reality series. According to one of the producers, "It is absolutely normal to make a documentary about people going about doing their work and not pay compensation."

That's true, but it's also deceptive to the people involved in the show. They're making the program work and receiving nothing for their efforts... except for the thrill of being included in the broadcast.

I see this as a potential powder keg. Somebody is going to challenge this legally, don't you think?

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I really like your show and every week there are a few select employees that work with the boss and are extremely over-compensated for some hardship in their personal life. What about the rest of these company's employees that didn't just happen to be the one training the boss.........do they all get big checks for their personal hardships? do they all get their college tuitions paid? It just appears that only the select few who work directly with the boss get the big company payoffs from the CEOs. In my opinion it just exemplifies how there are only a select few that benefit from having to work with and train the boss. The "select few"......that is how it is in the real world working for these big companies. Your reality show is lacking in the "reality" department. But, other than that I really do like your show.

February 21 2011 at 12:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I just watched the CEO of Churchill Downs show! I am a former Ky. State Trooper who worked at the Ky. Derby for many years and knew the "back side" and the "front side". The people here would never NOT know the person wearing the transmitter stuck down the back of the pants. This whole show is unbelievable and I am through with it. I would rather watch SurvivorMan on Discovery.

March 14 2010 at 10:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Its typical that nobody in the documentary gets paid by the production... at least not directly.

March 10 2010 at 7:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

So far every episode that I've watch not one corrupt Lazy Phoney Manager have gotten Fired! Not one! This kinda tells you something, that management will always stick togther and defend their management team. Even Lazy Supervisors keep their jobs when their caught not doing their job or helping their staff when needed. Managers and supervisors that brings down the moral not only in their own dept. but the entire company and top management either don't care or just turn a blind eye.
That's why big companies such as AIG gets their bail out money and then turns around and give big bonuses away to thier top managers but nothing to the avergae workers that run the company only to the so call pencil pushers.
These so call bad managers will bring down the entir company, it's Poor management that destroys big business. and they screw up an entire moral in any dept.
Not one Managers been fired yet.
The show is so PHONEY!!!

March 09 2010 at 6:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Besides the garbage episode, I noticed in the Hooters episode that the CEO took out the garbage with it dripping on his apron. He then proceeded back inside to fix chicken wings for the unlucky customers while wearing the same apron. He also put beer mugs in the freezer with the same dirty apron. The tears that he shed for the girls eating beans must have been from rubbing onions in his eyes. Only in America!

February 14 2010 at 11:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

never mind the cameras. But notice that the garbage truck had so much shine from the waxing and armor all on the tires, that i had to turn off the brightness on my h.d. t.v. for the glare coming off of it. and the port-o-john not even a scuff on it only time in my life that i had ever seen one with no writing on it at all till now.. but hey thanks for the drama though jojo

February 14 2010 at 11:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's better if they are not getting paid. That would defeat the purpose of the show. The whole "reality show" thing is just a bunch of amateurs being overpaid to flaunt their personality defects for all to see. I think paying these people would ruin this concept. This is actually a good show and I would hate to see it ruined.

February 14 2010 at 8:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tim Luttrell

I believe this program is excellent and the fact that they filmed this so we could see it is great. What these company leaders are doing in going behind the scenes to see the impact their decisions make is impressive. The fact that are least exploring and then endeavoring to make positive, changes to make life better for their employees is the way it should be. No, it is not perfect and there will always be someone criticizing what anyone does but from my experience this is the way it should be and my hat is off to these executives who come down out of the ivory tower and listen to us in the trenches. I am also glad that the decision was made to film this so we could see at least some of the results. After, this is a great tool and it could have been done privately within the company so only the employees of the company would have known about it. I would hope that every executive would come down into the trenches to see what life is like down here and see what impact their decisions make on the individual employee.

By the way, for those who think moving into the corporate suite is easy and all fun and games, it is not! Yes, they get paid well and perhaps sometimes more than is deserved but most of us would not do what they do because it is more often than not one step from hell on earth. Sometimes the job is just simply impossible yet they have to give it their best shot at getting a part of it right enough to keep the company moving forward and keep us in jobs!

February 14 2010 at 5:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Tim Luttrell's comment

Ohhh Mr. Littrell, you are definitely a company representative of the show or the company!! Do you have a transmitter stuck down the back of you pants as all the res do. I am going to the History channel and will tell all my friends. You people suck!!!

March 14 2010 at 10:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Okay, this show, as all other reality shows, has the "fly on the wall" paradox. How do they explain the cameras everywhere when the boss is hiring in (and the cameras are panned and zoomed so there is a cameraman). In particular, when the boss is invited for dinner to one worker's house, the cameras are in the house before he knocks on the door! Is anyone thinking "Who's taking the pictures?" I'd like to know how they explain an average Joe (aka Boss undercover) being followed by a camera crew.

February 10 2010 at 11:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I missed the first part of the first episode.

Did they explain why nobody suspected anything when a film crew was surrounding the newbie?

And don't give me any bull about "hidden cameras": the images and sound were way too crisp to have been shot by some spy-gizmo, and, besides, they would still have to explain away a constant "companion."

This is as much a "reality" show as "The Office."

February 10 2010 at 10:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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