Non-union comedy shows are no laughing matter for SAG-AFTRA, which has put two upcoming reality shows – Esquire Network’s Comedians Of L.A. and Oxygen’s Living With Funny – on its “Do Not Work” list and warned its members that they will be disciplined if they perform on the cable shows.
Both programs, which focus on the lives of stand-up comedians, are produced by L. Plummer Media, which bills itself as “an African-American-owned full-service production company based in Los Angeles.” The shows, which were announced at the NBCUniversal siblings’ upfront in March, are companion pieces: Comedians Of L.A. followings rising comedians in Hollywood as they tour the comedy club circuit, while Living With Funny focuses on their personal lives and relationships with their wives and girlfriends. Oxygen said actor-comic Brandon T. Jackson (Mr. Robinson, Deadbeat) is the first to commit to both series.
The union, however, says L. Plummer Media “has not yet executed a minimum basic agreement with SAG-AFTRA. Therefore, all SAG-AFTRA members are hereby informed that no member may accept work or appear as a guest on this program. Violating this order may result in disciplinary action in accordance with the SAG-AFTRA constitution.”
In an odd bit of programming, the two shows will air at the same time on Oxygen and Esquire, which has led the union to assert that “it’s a single series, produced by a single company … but for two different networks.” L. Plummer Media CEO Lemuel O. Plummer is the creator and executive producer both shows, which have begun production but do not have a premiere date. Calls to the union and to the company were not returned.
This is the third time in past 16 months that a reality show produced for the Esquire Network has landed on the union’s “Do Not Work” list. In October, SAG-AFTRA told its members not to work on Zero Point Prods’ travel series The Getaway because its producers had not signed a union contract, and SAG-AFTRA told its members in December 2013 not to work for Authentic Entertainment’s cooking show Knife Fight.