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‘Windy City Rehab’ co-host had to get permission to shave his beard — and more details from his contract that have surfaced in court

Eckhardt’s contract with showrunners provides a glimpse behind the curtain of reality television

Alison Victoria and Donovan Eckhardt of HGTV’s “Windy City Rehab.” 
Alison Victoria and Donovan Eckhardt of HGTV’s “Windy City Rehab.” 
HGTV

A glimpse behind the reality TV curtain was offered last week when the talent contract signed by “Windy City Rehab” host Donovan Eckhardt appeared in court filings in his defamation suit against showrunners.

The contract stated if Eckhardt wanted to shave his beard, he would have needed written consent — unless he gave advance notice of five business days.

It also stresses moral uprightness, including the importance of taking a wide berth around the pornography industry.

The contract, which refers to Eckhardt as an artist, states: “Failure to conduct artist’s self with due regard to social conventions or public morals or decency, participation in an ‘adult’ media (as determined by producer or network in its sole discretion) or commission of any act (in the past or present) which degrades artist producer or network or the program or brings artist or brings artist, producer or network or the program into public disrepute, contempt scandal or ridicule.”

Most of the contract is standard for Big Table Media, which produces the show for HGTV, and appeared in a motion filed by the company’s defense attorneys who are seeking to have court proceedings moved from Chicago to Sacramento, Calif., where the company is based.

The part that’s specific to Eckhardt was his compensation: $3,500 for each of the 10 episodes he was to take part in.

Under the contract, producers of the show had “the unlimited right to cut, edit, add to, subtract and omit from, adapt, change, arrange, rearrange or otherwise modify” the video and audio they record for the show.

Eckhardt was also bound by a confidentiality agreement from speaking about his experience on the show.

He never did air his grievances in the media. His displeasure with how he was being portrayed on the show surfaced in a lawsuit filed in January.

In the suit, he accused showrunners of falsely painting him as an untrustworthy villain for the sake of ratings. He’s seeking $2.2 million in damages.

According to the suit, large segments of the show were scripted and manufactured, including even the tears shed by co-host Alison Victoria Gramenos.

Eckhardt and his attorney, Dan Hogan, declined to comment, as did attorneys representing Big Table Media and HGTV.

In February, HGTV ordered nine additional one-hour episodes of the show.

The new episodes are slated to air in late 2021.