Contract Demand Threatens Start of ‘Survivor’ Season

Aug 12, 2014  •  Post A Comment

A showdown over contracts on the CBS reality staple “Survivor” is putting the scheduled start of the show’s upcoming season in jeopardy.

Writing on Deadline.com, Dominic Patten reports the struggle was joined when the Motion Picture Editors Guild, representing about two dozen editors on the show, told producer Mark Burnett and his Island Post Productions that the editors want a union contract.

Patten quotes a one-page letter from National Executive Director Ron Kutak of IATSE Local 700 to Island Post Producer John Heard saying: “The union requests negotiations with you with respect to pay, wages, hours and other terms and conditions of employment.”

Patten adds: “At present, the demand is for immediate negotiations and the editors and assistants are still on the job. However, with just over a month before the recently announced expanded September 24 debut of Season 29 of the reality show the move by the Santa Monica-based post crew could shuttle the beginning of ‘Survivor: San Juan del Sur’ if this escalates to a walk-out or further labor action, I’ve learned.

The report quotes an inside source saying: “The premiere episode isn’t even done yet. With the plan of a 90-minute opener and the team still going through footage, any delay of more than a few days would be very hard on the schedule.”

Patten notes: “Like fellow Burnett production shows ‘Shark Tank’ and NBC’s ‘The Voice,’ which do have IATSE contracts, the ‘Survivor’ employees want an agreement that includes industry-standard health insurance and pension benefits.”

Patten adds: “While there are no explicit indications of labor action in today’s short correspondence from Kutak, the plan I’ve learned is to give Burnett’s company a brief opportunity to respond before taking things further. That opportunity is based on the long, long relationship the editors have had with ‘Survivor’ with some of them having worked on the CBS series since its debut 14 years ago.”

A number of the editors involved in the action are up for Creative Arts Emmys for their work on “Survivor,” Patten notes, with the awards scheduled to be handed out Aug. 16.

“Frederick Hawthrone, Joubin Mortazavi, Evan Mediuch, Dave Armstrong, Andrew Bolhuis and Tim Atzinger are all up for Outstanding Picture Editing for Reality Programming,” the report notes.

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