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Mystery Diner

Did anybody else watch this latest 'reality ' type show? I've never seen or heard of it before so I'm assuming it's new. It's a mystery shopper service for restaurants. Owners experiencing merchandise / monetary losses due to employee theft arrange for this firm to stage a sting operation and record what happens. Last nights episode was at Maeve's Bar & Grill in Studio City. The blatant acts of dishonesty by this particular bartender were incredible. His excuse to the owner when confronted: " I was only trying to help you by establishing a rapport with the customer so they would want to become regulars.

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  1. Where and when did you see this program?

    1. This sounds intriguing.... where can I find it??

      1. Although I didn't see any info on the Food Network site, Google turned this up...

        The Pilot episode is called 'Mystery Diners' and will air on the Food Network on the following dates:

        December 14th at 10:00 PM
        December 15th at 1:00AM
        December 16th at 11:00PM
        December 17th at 2:00AM
        December 18th at 6:30PM

        1 Reply
        1. re: Manybears

          Thanks many bears! I guess I could have looked that up myself, whoops!

        2. This show is as phony as a three dollar bill. The first issue that comes to mind is the bar tender involved would have to give his OK for his involvement to be aired. (this is not a news show). With video camera's shooting away, both in the bar and later in the office might have been a giveaway?

          15 Replies
          1. re: poser

            No he wouldn't. When you are in a public setting you can be video taped and it broadcast without your permission at any time by anybody because your permission is not nessecary. When you are in public you have no expectation of privacy. That's the law. Many shows will have you sign a release as extra CYA but it isn't nessecary. Keep in mind this episode was shot in LA where virtually everyone is trying to be a star. This d-bag probably thought it was his big break and signed a release not knowing he was going to be exposed as a turd.

            1. re: WannabeTVchef

              This was not a public setting. This is a TV show. There is a huge difference. The show is a phoney. If you can't see it, that's your problem.

              1. re: poser

                The legal definition of a public setting is pretty much anything other than a private residence. As long as the owner of a business knows about the cameras and approves of them visitors to that business still have no expectation of privacy. TV show or not.

                1. re: WannabeTVchef

                  The bartender was not a visitor, he was an employe. Look, I don't care if you think the show is on the level or not. The fact is, employes have to have knowledge of the cameras. Do you work? I do, and we do have surveillance cameras. We had to be notified of them before they were put to use.
                  Another giveaway of this being a phony show. At the very end they said the bartender in question was working in Los Angeles as a bartender. How would they know that? Do you think the fired bartender used them as a reference?

                  1. re: poser

                    There are exceptions in Minnesota anyway. When someone is suspected of theft hidden cameras have been used to document that theft.

                    1. re: John E.

                      The only difference is this was done for a TV show. Even on those Fox shows (Cops etc) the guilty parties never were visually or identified by name. I really can't believe anyone thinks this show is real. Do you actually think the Bartender in question would sign a release to have his mug plastered all over the television showing himself to be a dishonest employe?

                      1. re: poser

                        As I indicated before, he might have signed a general release form without reading it or knowing it could end up on television. I really don''t care one way or the other. This show was so bad I cannot believe I have put several minutes into writing posts in reference to it.

              2. re: WannabeTVchef

                You may wannabe a TV Chef, BUT I am a lawyer.

                The law if different in many jurisdictions. A fleeting glimpse of an individual on a street (a truly public place) may be broadcast in a news segment. Someone dining in a private establishment does have an expectation of privacy. That is why people are asked to sign releases before their images can be broadcast. That's also why they pay extras to appear in films and on TV!

                This keeps a restaurant from snapping a picture of a celebrity dining there and using it in advertising without paying for the rights. No star would tolerate his/her image being used as an unpaid celebrity endorsement, particularly if they don't want to dilute the value of their paid appearances.

                Last year, I was in a restaurant where they shot an episode of Kitchen Nightmares. I was asked to sign a release. As I was dining with a client who did not want his whereabouts broadcast, we refused. Shots of our table were not used on TV, and my client had his faced blocked out when he was caught in a shot on his way to the rest room.

                Diners near us who were offered releases to sign were told that their meal would be free in exchange for the release.

                1. re: bagelman01

                  Was Gordy there when you were dining or was just the camera crew getting footage?

                  1. re: John E.

                    Gordon was there for about 10 minutes of our visit, but we hurried to get out when my client's now ex-wife walked in to have dinner with her attorney

              3. re: poser

                I just thought the show was boring. There were not three or four 200 hundred pound guys wandering around with cameras. They were hidden cameras. What we saw appeared real, but it was boring. I don't know what the California laws say about this issue, but I'm sure the bartender signed a release form to receive his last paycheck but did not know he was going to end up on national television. This show won't last long.

                Years ago my father was the president of the city council of the town we lived in. There was a municipal on/off sale place and it was losing money. My father hired a 'secret diner' (actually drinker) to go in there and observe the bartender. Basically he was doing the same thing. They fired him and hired a new manager. I told him he was like Patrick Swayze in Roadhouse minus the martial arts.

                1. re: John E.

                  "There were not three or four 200 hundred pound guys wandering around with cameras. They were hidden cameras"

                  Even though, California law allows the placement of recording devices in order to protect the employer. That same employer must make it known to the employes that they have installed those devices. If they don't make that info known, they are in violation of state labor laws.

                  1. re: poser

                    I wonder is their are exceptions to the rule? What about Candid Camera from long ago?

                    1. re: John E.

                      I don't think there are any exceptions. But if there were, I don't think a Food Network TV show would qualify.

              4. No this wasn't a fake program. I have gone to Maeve's for four years and she is for real. I can vouch that there were always a couple of cameras in the bar, perfectly obvious. I doubt she's supposed to inform employees she's installed additional cameras. And I took media law at Stanford. The dirtbag barkeep does not have to sign anything; it's a public place and he's been informed of the original camera. As for keeping up with where he is, bar biz in the valley is a small world. Maeve prolly heard the day he got his next gig.

                4 Replies
                1. re: crimsons

                  I guess the exception to the rule is when there is at least one visible camera.

                  1. re: crimsons

                    It is one thing to have security cameras which capture images for the protection of the owner. employees and patrons and quite another to use those recording for broadcast purposes.

                    I may see a sign stating that there are security cameras in a bar and enter feeling safer than without the cameras, as the cameras may deter holdups and drug use. My remaining in the premises may give the owner permission to film for security purposes. It does not give the rights to broadcast or resell my image.

                    In some jurisdictions there are time limits on how long the images may be retained before they must be erased.

                    1. re: bagelman01

                      @Bagelman, you've got a couple of good points there. The show seems to not have been picked up, and I wonder how much is due to legal reasons. I also wonder if the bartender has taken legal action.

                      1. re: crimsons

                        Apparently it is coming back. They aired a "sneak preview" on May 20th with the announcement that it will start airing this week.

                  2. This show is a SCAM! I had a feeling this show seemed a bit fake at first and then it was confirmed by the second episode. Can't remember the title, but it was the one where the new chefis thought to be running a catering business on the side. Anyway, the show keeps referencing a Craigslist ad dated March 14, 2012. However, the end of the show gives us an update 4 months later. Um - its only been 2 months between the "ad" and the airing of this show. I am ashamed of you food network.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: scarlet77

                      Yeah, it is searingly obvious how staged and fake this show is. The "acting" is ludicrous, the setups are transparent. And the worse sin is that it isn't even very entertaining. They pad out the episodes so much you end up watching the same scenes over and over. Between all of the "Coming up after the break"s and recaps after the commercials, they showed that Craigslist ad half a dozen times.

                      1. re: 2roadsdiverge

                        Watched my first and last episode last night. It was every bit a real as rasslin', but with worse acting. The "thieving bartender" and her friends who came to party with her after hours were so apparently acting that I watched the credits to see if they would admit the show was staged. I can't believe anyone would fall for this.

                        1. re: Remander

                          My daughter (actress) and I watched the same episode and came to the same conclusion. Plus, there was someone at the bar with "blurry face syndrome" so if it wasn't faked, why wouldn't the "thieving bartender" have the right to ask for her identity to be obscured?

                          Besides, if I own a business and suspect that my employees are stealing from me, don't I want to start making unannounced visits, rather than hiring someone else to run surveillance video? Show up at closing time, clean out the till, and send everyone on their merry way.

                    2. I read a blog posting by a person who said that the owner of Big Earls claims her episode was a re-enactment of something that happened in the restaurant. It is too bad the Food Network couldn't have been more honest in their advertising for this show.

                      1. This circumstance may be real, but the setting is staged. When the girls where leaving, the time was posted as 3:05 PM. In the backroom, the bartender's watch and the wall clock showed 2 PM.

                        1. I think it's soooo phony. Yes, these types of things really happens, but these are total set ups. The one with the manager Tim, who hired the pretty vs the experienced had conversations with the bartender who never answered. Offering to take an 18year old out to drink? Really??? I also wondered about signing releases. I have worked at a few restaurants where they tried to go with all young, pretty girls who had no clue what they were doing, but soon realized that they needed more experienced servers to keep their business viable. And the waitress Sophia how was caught eating and drinking? She soooo overacted with the checking around. And her hair was too perfect.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: vlcal61

                            I work in TV and film. In my opinion, the show is a fake.

                            I just now saw the "Big Earl" episode.
                            Along with the previous descriptions of its "fake-ness", I'd like to add one more clue that can stand on it's own.....
                            ...the lighting.
                            The bar area was WAY over-lit. What restaurant bar area is lit to that extent ?....especially with large windows flanking them, adjacent to, and visible from the street (the outside).
                            It was lit with several "studio lights", so the "subjects" (actors) could be bathed in light for the camera.
                            I hate shows like this....pretending to be shock-reality programming.
                            Who at FoodNetwork allowed this show to be purchased for broadcast ?
                            And what kind of slimy grease-ball producer(s) would even venture into such a fiasco ?
                            I bet if I could watch it a couple more times, I could find other anomalies.

                          2. OK, you guys are right. I went to Maeve's recently and ran into two of the bar "guests" who were in the episode. A total setup with an actor as bartender. One giveaway someone pointed out was that the "bartender" was wearing a watch. Hands in the water all night...what bartender wears a watch?

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: crimsons

                              I agree te show is a fake, BUT don't agree with your logic. I have bartended, waited tables, owned a catering business, washed dishes and pots and pans, ALL while wearing a watch. My everyday stainless steel Rolex is waterproof to 300 feet down and shock resistant. There is no reason to take it off while working. I've worn it every day for work (I have other gold dress watches) for almost 30 years.

                            2. It's really fake, and they keep using the same "mystery diners" over and over again, like Shelline. Wouldn't someone recognize her from the show if they were being spied on by her?

                              1. Oh dear. Some of you believe that "reality shows" are real? Bless your simple little hearts.

                                3 Replies
                                  1. re: RosePearl

                                    That's a pretty condescending attitude. The same could be said about any kind of media, up to and including the nightly news. The term "reality show" encompasses a whole lot of different television shows, and every person has their own definition. They also have different criteria for what is "real" and what is not.

                                    Few people would argue that a show like "Whale Wars," in which documentary film crews follow Greenpeace activists who are attempting to stop whale poachers, is "fake." The complaint here is that "Mystery Diners" is a re-creation using actors while being presented as if it had been filmed live.

                                  2. It took watching a few shows in row on a marathon they ran today for me notice this giveaway, but all you really have to do to confirm that Mystery Diners is completely staged is to look carefully for the beige "ear mics" that each of the employees who are "caught" doing something wrong are wearing.

                                    This type of mic is very similar to the one you might see Chef Ramsay wearing on the "Restaraunt Nightmares" show, that you can usually see him wearing (because they aren't trying to conceal it). It is hard to see in MD unless you are specifically looking for it, but it’s there if you do look.

                                    There is no way that someone who was being surveilled for some kind of sting operation would already be.mic'ed up with an internal ear beige microphone ahead of time. Really, producers? Sheesh.

                                    Shameful. I guess they figure that their demographic of viewers is not going to notice the ear mics, but it's really easy to catch especially... if you've DVR'd the show. Look for it and you can pause the show and really see it.

                                    This means the show is totally and utterly faked, and that’s all the real proof you need. Just deplorable that a show purporting to unconver deceptive behavior is itself deceiving its very own audience!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: taverner

                                      I went today to one of the restaurants on Mystery Diners. I had the chance to speak to the owner who was on the show. He said the show is a set up. He said that the Food Network contacted him and asked if he wanted to be on one of their shows. They didn't say which show. The Food Network finally revealed which show after they inspected his restaurant. He also stated that it took two days to set up for the filming.

                                    2. After watching this show and 3 others it is obvious that the whole thing is nothing but a FAKE!!! Not one of these thiefs had any legal action taken against them, so what is the point of catching them if they can just walk away with no legal action taken??? If this is not a complete set-up, then the only thing a person learns from watching is that you can steal anything you want from a restaurant and not have anything happen to you when you are caught.

                                      1. Yes.. The Show is Fake. It's my understanding that the first few episodes were real. Look at the first episode at Maeve's then compare that to the rest of the episodes.

                                        Apparently things went south with the girl who shut the bar down and partied after hours. As the patrons left the bar they had a runner trying to get people to sign waivers. One of the patrons called the bar/restauant and alerted the girl to what was going on. So she threw a fit but agreed to participate in the filming.

                                        From what I know they'd come in a few days before filming and wire the place and try to get an idea on what was wrong. Then a few days later they'd re-enact what happened and would amp up the DRAMA.

                                        Now the stuff just seems a too over the top.

                                        1. even though alot of ppl will criticize me-i enjoy watching the show-staged or not