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IATSE Settles Strike With ‘Biggest Loser’

Nellie Andreeva

Exactly two weeks after crew members on NBC’s Biggest Loser walked off the set, starting an IATSE-led strike against the producers of the veteran reality series, Reveille Prods., 3 Ball Prods. and 25/7 Prods, the union and  the production companies announced they have reached a tentative agreement, putting an end to the strike that crippled production on Biggest Loser for the past 2 weeks. At stake were crew members’ health benefits as the Biggest Loser producers don’t offer any and, as a non-union show, working on it didn’t count toward the IA days crew members need to accumulate in order to get benefits through the union. The production companies, which have deals with DGA and AFTRA, had resisted going union with IATSE because of the steep price tag involved, between a half million dollars and $2 million, depending on who you talk to, noting that they paid the crew wages substantially higher than the the union minimum to make up for the lack of benefits. But sources close to the crew had countered that much smaller cable reality series work under IA deals, so Biggest Loser should be able to afford the switch. The strike drew growing support  from outside and within the show. It was endorsed by the LA County AFL-CIO  on Tuesday and then by the state’s California Federation of Labor on Thursday. The show’s … Read More »

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‘Biggest Loser’ Strike Now Endorsed By California Labor Federation

Nellie Andreeva

More major union support for the striking crew members on NBC’s The Biggest Loser. After being endorsed on a county level by the LA County AFL-CIO  on Tuesday, the IATSE-led strike, now in its second week, was just sanctioned by the state’s California Federation of Labor:

(Oakland) –The California Labor Federation today declared a strike sanction on behalf of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) against the reality television series “The Biggest Loser” and its production entities, Reveille Productions, 25/7 Productions and 3 Ball Productions.

The sanction follows a vote by 100% of the production crew members to support the IATSE. The California Labor Federation, which represents 2.1 million members statewide, offered full support to the striking workers in their fight to gain a fair contract.

“A television show is only as good as its production crew,” said Art Pulaski, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the California Labor Federation. “The striking crew members on ‘The Biggest Loser’ put their heart and soul into creating a quality show each and every week. It’s shameful that the show and its production entities have shown so little respect for those who are so integral to the show’s success. The 2.1 million members of the California Labor Federation stand in solidarity with the striking members of the production crew in their fight to secure a decent wage with good benefits.”

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‘Biggest Loser’ Strike Moves To Burbank

Nellie Andreeva

IATSE took the strike against NBC’s reality series The Biggest Loser to NBC. Representatives for the union tonight hung a banner about the labor dispute in front of the NBC compound in Burbank. (photo via Twitter) The strike began last Monday night when Biggest Loser crew members, joined by IATSE representatives, walked off the set of the show. The walkout was endorsed yesterday by AFL-CIO. Striking crew members have been picketing in front of the Biggest Loser Ranch in Calabasas where the reality series is filmed.

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‘Biggest Loser’ Strike Update: Striking Crew Got Support From AFL-CIO & ‘Loser’ Talent

Nellie Andreeva

The crowd on the picket line at The Biggest Loser ranch is expected to be significantly larger tomorrow after the LA County AFL-CIO affiliate today endorsed the IATSE-led strike by the reality series’ crew and vowed to send picketers from some of the 350 unions and more than 800,000 unions it represents. There won’t be much to picket though as Biggest Loser is not scheduled to be filming on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the show’s AFTRA-represented talent, trainers Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper and host Alison Sweeney are yet to cross the picket line despite having no-strike clauses in their contracts. What’s more, the three are auctioning off a training session (Michaels/Harper) and a lunch date (Sweeney) on Ebay to support the relief fund established for the striking crew.

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‘The Biggest Loser’ Strike Update: Show Wraps Day Of Filming, Picketers Face EPs, AFL-CIO To Sanction The Strike Tomorrow

Nellie Andreeva

NBC’s The Biggest Loser completed its first day of filming while picketed by some 50 striking crew members. The show’s two trainers, Jilian Michaels, who had said she won’t cross the picket line, and Bob Harper, were not scheduled to work, so they didn’t show up at The Biggest Loser Ranch where the reality series is filmed. Among those who did show up and crossed the picket line were executive producers J.D. Roth and Todd Nelson, founders/CEO’s of 3 Ball Prods. (see photo by Jim Stevenson below). Meanwhile, the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, will hold a meeting tomorrow to sanction the IATSE-led strike by the crew of The Biggest Loser. A press event is scheduled for 11:15 AM. “The producers of this show want to make their own workers ‘the biggest losers’ and the labor movement in LA is not going to let that happen,” AFL-CIO’s Maria Elena Durazo said in a statement.

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IATSE Strikers vs ‘Biggest Loser’ Scabs

Here was the scene this morning at the Biggest Loser location in Calabassas when replacement workers arrived for work in the pre-dawn hours and were confronted by IATSE strikers as the scabs crossed the union’s picket lines. At bottom, strikers picket the gym where the Biggest Loser contestants work out. (Photos exclusive to Deadline by Jim Stevenson)

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‘Biggest Loser’ Scabs Try To Avoid IATSE

Nellie Andreeva

PHOTOS: IATSE Strikers vs ‘Biggest Loser’ Scabs

An internal IATSE memo circulated late last night suggesting that NBC’s Biggest Loser producers may have moved up the call time, originally scheduled for 5 AM, so that their replacement workers would avoid facing IATSE picketers. “Do we have them on the run?” the memo said. “Don’t let their scheming work. Let’s get their [there] and inform the brothers and sisters that are crossing the line that there is a better way to get work. Let’s give them the chance to show their dedication to keeping our industry one of responsible professionals. Call Time for Biggest Loser is now 4:00 AM. Please Please Please, meet us on the line at: King Gillette Ranch.” Strikers did indeed gather at 4 AM and have been picketing ever since in Calabasas where filming of the long-running reality series was scheduled to resume today with replacement workers in for striking crew members. IATSE called the strike following a walkout by crew members a week ago. Here is an early photo from the picket lines which CBS 2 reporter Suraya Fadel posted via Twitter.

IATSE says the strike followed a 100% vote by the Biggest Loser crew to support IA, but other insiders say that a little less than half of the reality series’ 100 crew members walked out on last Monday night and have been striking. (About 40 crew members on the show are IATSE members.) … Read More »

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STRIKE DRAMA: IATSE Promises Its Pickets Will Face Strike-Breakers At ‘Biggest Loser’ Monday; Shame On NBC And Liz Murdoch

As you know, Deadline TV Editor Nellie Andreeva has been keeping you up-to-date on every development of this breaking labor story. (‘Biggest Loser’ Production To Resume On Monday With Replacements) Now here’s my opinion: NBC needs to put an immediate stop to this disgusting situation before someone gets hurt. Shame on the broadcast network for embracing a show that’s now bringing in scab workers on Monday to replace striking IATSE members. NBC can and should put its foot down after 10 seasons of airing The Biggest Loser and use its influence with Shine Group’s Reveille Productions and 25/7 Productions, and JD Roth’s and Todd Nelson’s Eyeworks-owned 3 Ball Productions, to stop the confrontation. And I’m calling on NBC Universal Television Group President/COO Jeff Gaspin to get personally involved. I’m also calling on Shine’s Elizabeth Murdoch to consider her prominence in the entertainment biz and do the right thing. Read More »

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‘Biggest Loser’ Strike Update: Production To Resume On Monday With Replacements

Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE… 3RD UPDATE FRIDAY 11PM: It’s war! I hear that The Biggest Loser producers, Shine Group’s Reveille and JD Roth’s and Todd Nelson’s Eyeworks-owned 3 Ball Prods., are planning to resume production on the weight-loss reality series on Monday morning after a week-long shutdown because of the IATSE-backed strike by crew members. But the restart of filming is not the result of an agreement with IATSE. I hear the producers are bringing in replacements and the show will continue to be non-union. (In a letter sent to the crew members on Tuesday, the full text of which is displayed in the 2nd Updatedbelow, the producers threaten striking crew members that their jobs may be lost if they hire permanent replacements.) I hear that no Biggest Loser crew members are expected to cross the picket line on Monday. “Should be ugly,” one insider says. Meanwhile, I hear that the Biggest Loser employees who are striking to go union have received support from the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, a voluntary federation of 57 national and international unions, which has issued a “Do Not Patronize” sanction against the Biggest Loser producers. The companies’ put on AFL-CIO “Do Not Patronize” list “have been identified as unfair employers and adversaries of the labor movement, and all trade unionists and friends of organized labor are urged not to patronize those businesses,” according to the organization’s Web site.

EXCLUSIVE… 2ND UPDATE THURSDAY 4PM: It’s Day 3 of IATSE’s strike against veteran NBC reality series The Biggest Loser and the production companies behind it, mainly Reveille Prods. and 3 Ball Prods. As we first reported, the strike started on Monday night when the show’s crew walked off the set. The picketing, which started yesterday at the production location aka The Ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains, spread today to the Redondo Beach offices of 3 Ball where the show is being edited. Production on the series’s upcoming 11th season continues to be halted. Meanwhile, the producers have sent a stern Facts About a Strike letter to the crew, stressing that they may hire permanent replacements for the striking members. (letter posted below.) The strike is taking a toll on the striking employees. “Most of the crew is bummed, but determined,” one insider said. “Many have been on the show for 4 or 5 seasons. They are sticking together, many on the picket lines.” Read More »

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