Former NATPE President Rick Feldman has been named executive director of the newly created Nonfiction Producers Association, a nonprofit trade group representing companies that produce documentaries and reality TV shows. Feldman, who served as president of the National Association of Television Program Executives from 2003-12, also was the longtime president and general manager of KCOP-TV Los Angeles. In his new job, he will be the chief spokesman for producers of reality TV shows. Companies that have signed up for the NPA membership include Leftfield Pictures, Original Media, True Entertainment, , Magilla Entertainment, Atlas Media Corp, Big Fish Entertainment, Jane Street Entertainment and Loud TV.
“This organization includes men and women who run companies that, for the most part, have a high degree of employee loyalty and want to have a business where everybody succeeds at all levels,” Feldman told Deadline. “And we’re going to work hard to make sure that that happens.”
In a statement on its founding, the NPA said that it was “created as a professional body that can provide industry information, training and assistance to production companies, their staffs, and production employees, and promote ‘best practices’ that ensure production employees, independent contractors, vendors and other stakeholders have a voice and platform for meaningful discourse that can encourage and contribute to the continued success and welfare of all parties within the nonfiction television industry.”
WGA East Executive Director Lowell Peterson, who has been trying to unionize reality TV writer-producers, said the formation of the new trade group “shows that reality TV is consolidating, is profitable and wants to play in the big leagues. I look forward to sitting with Mr. Feldman and talking about working conditions and respect for the right of employees to bargain collectively.”
Feldman and the NPA are based in New York City, though it doesn’t have any offices yet.
Last week, when the New York City Council held hearings on alleged “sweatshop” working conditions at reality TV shows, no industry representatives showed up to offer testimony. Feldman now will be the industry’s point man for any future hearings involving reality TV production.
In a statement, NPA said: “For nearly two decades, the creators, producers, artists, craftspeople and technicians working in reality TV – including documentaries, character-driven reality series, lifestyle series and competition shows – have enthralled audiences worldwide, telling extraordinary stories of real people who share their talents, dreams and frailties. Nonfiction content is a significant part of the programming landscape and, thus, warrants an Association dedicated to the advancement and protection of all those whose talents, hard work and commitment literally created the industry. The businesses of nonfiction television take pride in providing vibrant creative workplaces and opportunity for thousands of ambitious men and women. The Nonfiction Producers Association looks forward to growing its membership, and eagerly and enthusiastically welcomes many more production companies to our ranks as we unite to protect and celebrate our dynamic entertainment genre.”