Crew members of Shahs of Sunset, produced by Ryan Seacrest Productions for the Bravo Network, shut down postproduction work on the upcoming fourth season of the series yesterday, demanding union recognition and a contract.
Shahs‘ employees have overwhelmingly signed cards authorizing the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE) to negotiate on their behalf. On Tuesday the union sent Berne Productions, a Ryan Seacrest Productions subsidiary and the crew’s employer, a letter requesting an immediate start to contract talks. The crew walked off the job Wednesday morning after having received no response from the employer.
According to a report in Deadline, a spokeswoman for Ryan Seacrest Productions said that company has “every intention of engaging in a discussion as soon as possible.”
Bravo announced yesterday that it has scheduled season four of Shahs of Sunset to premiere on Oct. 13, putting the producers under intense pressure to settle this quickly.
The action is the latest in a series of high-profile work stoppages by production and postproduction reality television crews in the IATSE’s ongoing campaign to unionize the genre. The walkout comes less than a month after a similar strike succeeded in winning a contract for employees of CBS‘s long-running hit Survivor.
“Unscripted entertainment entails much more than simply presenting an unfiltered view of a bunch of big personalities. Bringing these stories to the screen requires tremendous craft and effort,” said Motion Picture Editors Guild (IATSE Local 700) president Alan Heim, ACE. “The artists and craftspeople who do that work seek the same basic industry standards that their counterparts in scripted programming have long enjoyed. For a show celebrating flamboyant opulence, it should be embarrassing that they don’t provide employees with health and retirement benefits.”