UPDATE, 8:14 PM: No joke — the strike is over. After a day-and-a-half labor action on the part of the Motion Picture Editors Guild, IATSE Local 700, the postproduction crew of Last Comic Standing now have a union contract, I’ve learned. With that over, everybody is heading back to work tomorrow on the soon-to-debut NBC reboot. The roughly 15 editors, assistant editors and other briefly striking post employees have won the health and retirement benefits plus vacation and holiday pay they sought when they walked out on Monday. A day of picketing today outside the Glendale postproduction facility of the NBC Studios show also saw significant wage increases for the assistant editors. Last Comic Standing is set to premiere on May 22.
PREVIOUS, APRIL 21, AM: Just more than a month before its reboot is set to debut, NBC‘s Last Comic Standing today has been knocked down by a labor action. About 15 editors and assistant editors walked off the job today in a no-joke strike organized by the Motion Picture Editors Guild, IATSE Local 700, I’ve learned. Hired by NBC Studios on a non-union basis, the editors are seeking a union contract that includes industry-standard health insurance and pension benefits.
With LCS slated to premiere on May 22, today’s action halts postproduction on the returning reality series. No word yet if the strike could spill over into LCS’ immediate broadcast schedule, but the margins are tight with the debut so close. “For generations, the Guild has fought to establish standards for this kind of employment so that talented postproduction craftspeople can enjoy certain basic safeguards, including health and retirement benefits,” guild chief Alan Heim said in a statement today. “NBC Studios apparently doesn’t think that this show’s editors and assistants deserve such baseline respect, and we don’t find that in the least bit funny.”
LCS is the second non-fully unionized NBC reality competition show Hollywood guilds have focused on in the past 18 months. In October 2012, production on Fashion Star was shut down in an IATSE action when the 60-plus crew sought health and pension benefits. After several days of picketing at Hollywood Center Studios and and the offices of producer Magical Elves, the two sides quickly reached a deal.
NBC said in March that LCS — which ran for seven seasons from 2003-2010 — would be brought back with a 13-episode order with new judges Roseanne Barr, Keenen Ivory Wayans and Russell Peters and JB Smoove as the host. The show pits up-and-coming comedians against one another for a shot at a network development deal. Wanda Sykes and Page Hurwitz of Push It Prods executive produce for Universal Television through their deal with the studio, along with The Marriage Ref‘s Javier Winnik.