Reality Show Workers Stage a Walkout to Push Contract Talks Forward

Labor News, Industry News

The Writers Guild of America, the union that represents Hollywood writers, is battling entertainment companies on multiple fronts. Credit Reuters

Reprinted from The New York Times by Brooks Barnes on April 12, 2017.

Having successfully turned up the heat on one set of entertainment companies, the Writers Guild of America on Wednesday gave another group a turn on the burner.

The union primarily represents traditional screenwriters — the 12,000 or so wordsmiths who dream up film scripts and annually churn out thousands of scripted TV episodes. On that front, talks with studios for a new contract resumed here on Monday after the union began preparations for a strike.

But the Writers Guild also represents a different set of storytellers — the writer-producers who help put together reality shows. And on Wednesday, the union renewed its push for a separate contract for those workers, staging what it called a walkout at roughly a dozen reality show companies in New York and Los Angeles, including Leftfield Entertainment, best known for making the cable hit Pawn Stars, and Peacock Productions, a unit of NBCUniversal.

“It’s about asserting power,” said Lowell Peterson, executive director of the Writers Guild of America, East, the unit which led the effort. “Conditions are still rough in this part of the business, and we are determined to change that.” …

NY Times 4/12

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Jeff Burman represents assistant editors on the Guild’s Board of Directors. He can be reached at

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