Samuel L. Jackson has signed to return as host of Spike TV‘s Video Game Awards, which will air live December 7 and be produced again by Mark Burnett. The event, dubbed VGA Ten this year to celebrate its 10th anniversary, hands out honors and features world premieres of upcoming titles. Burnett, Casey Patterson and Carol Donovan will executive produce. Jackson, who pulled the same duty for Spike’s VGAs from 2005-2007, also is hosting the BET Awards on July 1.
UPDATE, 5:56 PM: Original Prods in a statement this afternoon has countered claims that the company was stingy when it came to benefits and worker safety on the show. “Original Productions has always offered competitive wages and excellent working conditions,” it read. “It is the reason Original Productions attracts the kind of talent that has been successfully developed into award-winning crafts people with impeccable industry reputations. Additionally, Original Productions follows a strict Injury/Illness Prevention Program policy for all of its productions with healthy and safe working conditions as a priority for all production crews.”
The statement said neither IATSE or the Teamsters have filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board for certification and that for now “it is the company’s position that it is not obligated to recognize these two unions as bargaining representatives.”
PREVIOUS, 1:01 PM: About 100 people turned up outside the Burbank compound of 1000 Ways To Die producer Original Productions on a chilly Monday morning. Sympathizers including reps from WGA West as well as SAG and AFTRA joined the picket line, which got underway at 8:30 AM, chanting their call for a union contract for the Spike TV show. Today’s action comes after Original fired two-dozen workers after they voted to seek union representation; production has been stopped for more than a week, and Friday the unions called for a strike. “This is a successful television series and this company refuses to work with unions,” Steve Dayan, an organizer at Teamsters Local 399, told Deadline in front of the well-barricaded Original facility. “This company is non-union for all the unions — non-SAG, non-AFTRA, non-Teamster, non-DGA. These guys have a successful television series and they’re not willing to pay their crew their benefits.”
Dominic Patten is a Deadline contributor
UPDATED: Teamsters Local 399 business agent/organizer Steven Dayan said the action is series producer Original Productions’ own fault. “This is a company that has not communicated with us at all,” he told Deadline. “Our understanding is that Original Productions are crewing up again and that they are going to attempt to shoot again.” Production on the Spike TV series, now in its fourth season, came to a halt February 16 when Original fired more than two dozen crew members seeking union protection. Original also produces the reality series Deadliest Catch, Storage Wars and Ice Road Truckers. “This is a company, when it comes to safety, to health benefits, to the people who made their show a success, do not do things the way they should,” Dayan said. “It is a recipe for abusing people. The bottom line is that’s wrong and that is why we will be picketing on Monday.” Here’s the release announcing the action:
LOS ANGELES – Last Thursday, February 16, the crew of Spike Television’s series “1000 Ways to Die” voted unanimously to support the IATSE in securing them benefits, safe working conditions, and collective bargaining rights.
Original Productions, who also produce reality shows such as “Ice Road Truckers” and “Deadliest Catch” for Discovery, refused to recognize the IA as the bargaining unit and summarily fired the crew, numbering over 25 employees. The production has been down for the past week.
Begainning at 8:30 a.m. this coming Monday, Feb. 27, , IATSE and Teamster leaders, the LA County AFL-CIO and rank and file members of several production locals will join the union and non-union crew of “1000 Ways to Die” to walk the picket line in front of Original’s production facility at 2435 Naomi Street, Burbank, CA 91504.
Spike TV is bringing back one-time Fox reality staple World’s Wildest Police Videos. The cable channel, which previously syndicated the show, has ordered 13 new episodes of the series, a compilation of outrageous police footage. Spike also has picked up three new original unscripted series: Full Bounty, a reality competition featuring aspiring bounty hunters, which has received a 10-epidode order; Tattoo Nightmares, chronicling the stories behind unfortunate tattoos and their owners’ attempts to have them fixed, which has been picked up for six episodes; and Rat Bastards, following a group of guys in Louisiana who hunt down giant swamp rats, which has been ordered also for six episodes. Additionally, Spike has greenlighted a two-part special, Urban Jungle Man. “These three new non-scripted shows share a theme of larger-than-life characters in extreme situations where the high stakes are real,” said Spike’s EVP original series Sharon Levy. “They are perfect complements to our upcoming launches of Big Easy Justice, American Digger and Diamond Divers, which have similar distinctive characters.” Here are descriptions of Spike’s newly ordered series:
Veteran ABC Family executive Tom Zappala has joined Spike TV as EVP Programming. He will oversee Spike’s scheduling, media planning and acquisitions, reporting to Spike TV president Kevin Kay. Zappala spent the last eight years at ABC Family, where he most recently served as EVP program acquisitions and scheduling, overseeing off-network, first-run and feature acquisitions, international and domestic co-productions, planning and scheduling, on-air promotional scheduling and digital scheduling initiatives. He was also the architect of ABC Family’s popular “25 Days Of Christmas” annual event. Zappala left ABC Family at the end of October when the network noted that he was relocating back east to be closer to his family.