UPDATE, 12:17 PM: The post-production crew of Shahs Of Sunset may have walked off the job today in search of a union contract but Ryan Seacrest Productions isn’t disengaging from the labor action on the Bravo show. A spokeswoman for the company confirmed to me that a letter from IATSE requesting immediate talks was received last night, and that they have “every intention of engaging in a discussion as soon as possible.” When the two sides will actually start talks is uncertain right now.
PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE, 11:40 AM: On Tuesday, Bravo announced the fourth season of Shahs Of Sunset would premiere October 13. Today, the Ryan Seacrest Productions reality series discovered that might not be the case after all. Just more than a month before the supposed new season debuts, the Motion Picture Editors Guild led the Shahs postproduction crew off the job in a strike for an IATSE contract.
Like the labor action by Survivor editors and other postproduction staff last month, the approximately 16 members of the SoS post crew want Seacrest’s subsidiary company Berne Productions Inc. to sit down for negotiations with the guild. Also, like the short, successful Survivor strike against Mark Burnett’s Island Post Prods, the main point of contention is health and pension benefits. “Seacrest isn’t a bad employer but this is about protecting the people doing the work,” a source told me of the action. Berne and RSP were notified via letter late Tuesday of the desire for talks, I’ve been informed. When the company did not respond with an agreement to sit down for immediate talks, the Shahs post crew made the decision late this morning to walk out of their Museum Square facility in LA. No picket line has gone up yet.
With the Survivor win and the deal they struck after shutting down NBC’s reboot of Last Comic Standing in late April, to name a few, the 7,300-strong Editor’s Guild has proven increasingly resilient in its long-term efforts to unionize the unscripted genre. One tactic that seems to be working in their favor is timing: Last November, the IATSE Local negotiated a union contract for post-production workers on Discovery Channel‘s Naked & Afraid after a one-week work stoppage against producers Renegade 83 just three weeks before N&A’s December 6 premiere.
While filming is fundamentally wrapped on Season 4 of Shahs Of Sunset, sources say that the first two episodes of the upcoming cycle are not 100% completed. That means a strike of more than a few days could have a bottleneck effect and force the NBCU-owned Bravo to push the show’s premiere back. A similar move was employed by the union on the Survivor and Last Comic Standing actions and certainly proved a major factor in getting everyone to the table quickly. Now it is a question of whether history will repeat itself.