Thuggish threats and racist and homophobic taunts by picketing members of Boston’s Teamsters Local 25 against the cast and crew of Top Chef have become a campaign issue in the race for governor of Massachusetts.
In January, the Democrats’ leading candidate, Massachusetts attorney general Martha Coakley, accepted a $14,999 campaign contribution from the Teamsters local. A day after Deadline’s story about the Top Chef incident, the state’s Republican Party now is calling for her to return the money.
“Harassing women and using homophobic slurs is disgraceful and just plain wrong,” Kirsten Hughes, chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Party, said in a statement. “As a woman, I sincerely hope Martha Coakley will return the money she received from this group which displayed despicable behavior towards women and towards the gay community.”
Coakley, who polls indicate is leading a three-way race for the Democratic primary to be held September 9, issued a statement to Deadline saying: “Martha believes that the actions as alleged are completely inappropriate. Our campaign has contacted the union in question to express our concerns.”
As Deadline first reported Wednesday, about a dozen members of Local 25 who were picketing the show in June rained racist, sexist and homophobic threats on members of the cast and crew as they filmed an episode for the show’s upcoming season in Milton, MA. The show’s host, Padma Lakshmi, and Jenn Levy, Bravo’s SVP Production, were threatened as they drove onto the set. A crewmember witnessed a Teamster rush Lakshmi’s car and scream, “We’re gonna bash that pretty face in, you fucking whore!”
John King, Milton’s Deputy Police Chief, said the Teamsters were “threatening, heckling and harassing” the cast and crew and that a group of Teamsters “slashed the tires on 14 different cars owned by the crew.”
The first officer on the scene, he said, had to call for backup after the Teamsters “gave the officer trouble.” Reading from the police report, he said that the Teamsters were “hostile, swearing, and refusing to let people come in and out. Officers repeatedly tried to deescalate the situation.” When more police arrived, the Teamsters went to the show’s hospitality tent and “harassed the crew there.” When the officers went there, King said, “A group of them slashed the tires on 14 different cars owned by the crew.”
Season 12 of Top Chef premieres October 15 on Bravo, but no word yet on when the Boston episode will air.