It’s possible, with some effort, to believe that Tyra Banks imagines her talk show to be as uplifting and current as a new Victoria’s Secret bra — “Tomorrow on Tyra: Women Who Escaped the Sex Industry!” It’s also possible to believe that Banks is still deciding which angle she looks best on camera. But it’s unlikely. Even to a casual viewer it’s clear that The Tyra Banks Show often dabbles in voyeurism and opportunism. Just how predatory that opportunism is could become a matter for the courts.
Beverly McClendon, a mom from Atlanta, claims her 15-year-old daughter was contacted by the show after she responded to the show’s online request for guests, then picked up in a limo, flown to New York City, put up in a hotel and taped in an episode of the show about sex addicts — all without her mother’s permission. McClendon went so far as to file a missing persons report when she realized her daughter was gone. (More on Time.com: Photos: Dr. Mehmet Oz: Medicine Man)
All of this, and the daughter has also never been diagnosed as a sex addict, says McClendon. Now she’s suing Banks’ show and Warner Bros. Television Group (which is owned, as is this website, by Time Warner).
The lawsuit is claiming an invasion of privacy (the daughter is a minor), negligence (the show didn’t get permission from the girl’s mother or the labor commissioner, even though she was paid for her appearance) and damages to the tune of $3 million. It might be appropriate to ask the former model the same question she asked on Monday’s show to a man who had allegedly waxed his sex-worker daughter’s bikini line: “What the hell were you thinking?” (More on Time.com: Is Katy Perry a Sesame Streetwalker, or Do Viewers Just Want Her to Be?)
Neither Warner Bros. TV nor Tyra, who usually has something to say, has released a statement, but a quick look at the week’s Tyra episodes suggest that mothers who fear that their children may have undergone gay exorcism, or been involved in a girl fight, or dated their best friends ex, or had a harrowing experience involving feminine hygiene may want to check on their offspring’s whereabouts right now.
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