You remember way back when reality television was the way people described the nightly news? The unscripted genre has completely changed the landscape inside the screen you're watching right nower but... See More
You remember way back when reality television was the way people described the nightly news? The unscripted genre has completely changed the landscape inside the screen you're watching right nower but how has it altered the meaning of the word reality? Today the wildly popular auction show "storage wars" is under fire from an ex-star who says they are faking some of the big money shots. Abc's dan harris separates fact from fiction. Bring it on. 250! Sold. Reporter: It is one of the most popular reality shows on tv. "Storage wars" has a simple addictive conceit. People bid on the contents of storage lockers that have been abandoned by their owners. What happened? There's a body in there. Reporter: Inside they find either the worthless things of people's lives. What's this? Not good. Reporter: Or hidden treasures. Silver silverware set. Reporter: One of the stars is this guy, david hester, known as the mogul, a man who has a SIGNATURE MOTTO WHICH HE HOLLERSfBañ During the auction. Yep! Reporter: But now there is strife in storage land. This one's not for me. Reporter: The mogul has hired a big shot hollywood attorney and filed a lawsuit, alleging that a&e has committed a fraud on the public. Hester says the producers regularly salt or plant the storage lockers with valuable or unusual items to create drama and suspense. Wow. Check these out. Reporter: He points to specific examples, such as this stack of old newspapers announcing the death of elvis presley. And this car found under a pile of trash. Whoa! It's a bmw. Reporter: Hester says after he complained, he was fired. A&e, which is half owned by disney, the parent company of abc, told us today they will not comment on pending lawsuits, but one of the show's producers did say this recently. I can honestly tell you that the stuff found in those containers are found in the storage containers. Reporter: Although he did admit they sometimes move items from one storage locker to another. This is not the first time the level of reality in reality tv has been questioned. Recently, a former participant on hgtv's requests house hunters," which follows families choosing a new home, said producers knew she and her husband had already purchased their new home before they taped the show in 2006. Finally the producer said let's do whatever. So we called our very closest and kindest friends who were that generous and they offered up their houses for us to tour as our pretend decision making houses. Reporter: In a statement, hgtv said we aren't showing a documentary, we're simply entertaining our viewers. Reality tv is a little bit like sausage. You might love the way it tastes but you don't necessarily want to know how it's made. Reporter: Clearly, most viewers know that not every fight or drunken hook up on reality tv is real. But when there's a competition, there is an expectation of some authenticity. BACK IN THE 1950s, AFTER Revelations that contestants on popular quiz shows were secretly given the answers, congress held hearings and made it illegal to rig quiz shows. I don't think it's our style. Reporter: Nobody alleges the level of manipulation on today's reality shows is anywhere near that, and legal experts we spoke with don't think the producers of "storage wars" are in danger of any criminal charges. I'm not sure that this is really a contest with a prize. They get to buy a locker full of stuff and times there might be a jewel in there, but that's not necessarily a prize from the sponsor. It's very important for the producers of this program to have a relationship with the audience that makes them believe that what they're seeing is real. And if this can be annihilated, not only in a legal court but in the court of public opinion, it can undermine the ratings greatly. Reporter: Which is why at least one observer tonight is advising that a&e that whether the mogul's allegations are true important. Reporter: Thank you, dan. Coming up next, ladies and gentlemen, the rolling stones. "Nightline" has the only interview while they're on tour
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