Robert Matthew Van Winkle, known as Vanilla Ice, is facing burglary and grand theft charges in a case that could raise the liability or responsibility of production companies in reality shows. The rapper who gained fame in the 90s was reportedly stealing items form a residence as part of a reality show. That presumably created not just a clear record of the crime but would also lead to questions about the role of the company.
Reports indicate that Vanilla Ice thought the residence was vacant and that the thefts would make for for good television. He allegedly stole furniture, a pool heater, bicycles and other items and later gave a sworn statement (and returned the items). Worse yet, Vanilla Ice has been previously charged with theft.
On The Vanilla Ice Project, the singer fixes up homes to sell for a show on the DIY Network, which premiered in 2010 and is now in its fourth season. That raises the interesting question of the involvement of DIY Network. Journalists are protected in interviewing criminals and filming criminal acts (though sometimes that leads to subpoena issues). Here DIY could be viewed as a co-conspirator and facilitator of the alleged crime. The network makes money from these programs and encouraging a crime would be viewed by some as being part of the crime. On the other hand, they can claim that they are acting in the capacity of an observing media not a participant. Clearly the possible charges could include trespass for the crew.
What do you think?