Shaq Legal Move To Doom Sports Wives Shows?

VH1 announced today to the media that its launching a new series called Football Wives, which the cable channel claims will give “viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the glamorous life of the better halves of professional football’s most elite players. Production will begin immediately. The eight-episode 30-minute series is set to premiere later this year.

Shaq trying to shut down Shaunie on Basketball Wivs

(Shaunie reax today on Twitter)

More from the VH1 media release:

“Building on the success of Basketball Wives, we want to take a look at the differences and challenges of being the better half of a player in America’s most popular sport,” said Jeff Olde, Executive Vice President of Original Programming and Production. “We are thrilled to expand this franchise and give viewers access to a new, unique and exclusive world that you have to see to believe.”

Cast members of the show have yet to be revealed but if the past week is any indication, pickings may be slim.

Before Basketball Wives debuted last Sunday, TMZ.com reports today that Shaquille O’Neal attorney Michael Kump sent a letter, dated April 8, to VH1 parent MTV Networks claiming that any mention of his NBA client by O’Neal’s ex-wife Shaunie, who is the star of the show, would constitute a violation of a formal confidentially agreement between the former couple.

Shaq’s lawyer Kump thus claimed to MTV Networks that Shaunie legally was not allowed to mention Shaq’s name on the show, with confirmation of the adherence to that demand required by 5pm today.

Basketball Wives On Vh1

At 5pm PT today, I asked a MTV Networks spokesman in Los Angeles about the status of the show and was told that the company had no comment.

So what kind of chance is there that Shaunie will indeed have to adhere to a gag order when it comes to mentioning Shaq?

There’s already one cast member on the same show, Royce Reed, who is legally prevented from mentioning Dwight Howard, the father of her child, because of a confidentiality agreement. MTV Networks has so far abided by that agreement through the first episode. So there’s precedent.

Besides Reed, Shaunie is the only cast member on the show who has a connection to a superstar NBA player, so if she can’t talk about Shaq, the show would be in serious jeopardy.

That’s what makes today’s Football Wives announcement curious. As I wrote a week ago, the basic premise of these types of shows is a good one. But in practice, because of legal and privacy issues, the stuff that would make such a show entertaining is almost always going to be extracted.

An analogy would be a reality show about Tiger’s mistresses, but they can’t talk about Tiger. What’s the point? That’s what Basketball Wives is now facing if Shaq is successful in his legal bid to legally silence his former wife. And that’s what also could seemingly prevent Football Wives from ever getting off the ground.