The media giant admits that more was shown of a contestant on the VH1 reality show than should have been, but that doesn’t give Jessie Nizewitz the right to go after them for millions. “The episode of Dating Naked that featured Ms. Nizewitz aired in July 2014 with an inadvertent gap in digital blurring that lasted for less than a second,” Viacom said in a motion for dismissal filed this week in NY Supreme Court.
Despite their admission of a rather revealing mistake, Viacom’s new motion takes shots at Nizewitz and seeks to bury her in the letter of the law. “Jess Nizewitz is a former model and sometimes actress who wanted a shot at fame,” the memorandum of law states, altering her name in its response. Nizewitz sued VH1 owner Viacom and Dating Naked’s producers Lighthearted Entertainment and Firelight Entertainment for $10 million in late August over leaving her exposed on air — to say the least. Viacom says forget about it. “The complaint should be dismissed and Ms. Nizewitz should be ordered to pay Viacom’s attorneys’ fees and costs, as contractually required.
“Before filming began, she signed not one but three agreements, in which she expressly and repeated agreed (no fewer than twelve times) that she would participate and be filmed fully nude: that footage could be exhibited and distributed without restriction that the producers would have sole discretion in how the footage was edited; that she waived any right to sue over her appearance on the show; and that she would liable for attorneys fees should she sue in violation of her contract,” Viacom’s dense filing of October 17 reads.
“They allege that my client waived her rights in the participation agreement,” Nizewitz’s lawyer Matthew Blit of the NYC offices of Levine & Blit, PLLC told me. “Our allegation is that it was an intentional act and outside the participation agreement. We are confident that this motion will be denied.”
In her initial suit, Nizewitz claimed producers told her during the filming of the beach-wrestling scene they would make sure to digitally blur out any full-on nudity. They may have said that, but they didn’t do it and eventually exposed the 28-year old’s vagina and anus to VH1 viewers on the July 31 broadcast. Regardless, Viacom says that doesn’t matter one bit. “The three written agreements that Ms. Nizewitz signed expressly disdain reliance on any oral representations and otherwise preclude the existence of an oral contract since they provide that modifications may only be made in writing, signed by both parties,” notes the memo.
Nizewitz, in her 12-page filing, said that “since the initial airing of the third episode of Dating Naked, Plaintiff has suffered and continues to suffer severe extreme emotional distress, mental anguish, humiliation and embarrassment, as the uncensored episode and uncensored pictures therefrom have been uploaded to various Internet websites including YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr.” VHI renewed Dating Naked for a second season in mid-September.
Elizabeth McNamara of NYC firm Davis Wright Tremaine LLP is leading the legal charge for Viacom and producers Lighthearted Entertainment and Firelight Entertainment.
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