Reading this LA Times story about how Law & Order reruns might have to be pulled if Fred Thompson runs for President made me wonder. If stations are so afraid of having to give equal time for other candidates that they'd rather pull the episodes, then surely it would be economically rational for the studios to put a routine “no running for office” clause in actors' contracts that would apply so long as the reruns are showing?
My question is whether that term would be enforceable: would it be against public policy? Or maybe fall to the same sort of doctrines that disfavor non-compete clauses that last more than a few months to (at most) a couple of years?
Employment law is not my thing, but I bet someone reading this could hazard an answer.
Eugene Volokh has an answer.
I don’t think the issue is quite that serious, Law and Order is a somewhat tired franchise comming to the end of its run in any case. Thompson’s candidacy attracts attention to a series that might otherwise fold.
The losses would be considerably greater if he actually became President. That does not look very likely at this point. He may not even win the nomination despite being the only genuine Conservative and the best bet to actually win.
But even in that case the loss of US re-runs would be made up in other ways – sales of the series on DVD, increased foreign distribution. It is by no means certain that this is a net loss to the distributors.