'American Idol's' labor issues still under fire
Four WGA West staffers were arrested on suspicion of trespassing Thursday while leafleting at the Hollywood & Highland mall to protest that “American Idol” is not under WGA jurisdiction.
WGA West assistant exec director Jeff Hermanson along with guild organizers Trish Albert, Laura Watson and Terence Long were arrested while they passed out leaflets saying, “FremantleMedia refuses to treat its writers fairly.”
The WGA West said the four were taken into custody as part of a citizen’s arrest by mall security guards. They were then booked on misdemeanor charges at the Los Angeles Police Dept. and later released after posting bond.
“We will continue to exercise our First Amendment rights despite the heavyhanded treatment we received,” Hermanson said. “The public has a right to know that the top-rated show on television does not provide their writers with basic necessities like health care.”
WGA general counsel Tony Segall said the guild also was considering legal action against the operators of the Hollywood & Highland mall, claiming false arrest.
Representatives for the mall were not immediately available for comment.
The WGA held a monthlong campaign in five cities this summer to organize reality shows by targeting allegedly unfair working conditions on “American Idol.”
FremantleMedia execs have said the allegations, which include denial of overtime pay and meal breaks, are without merit. The execs also have said the WGA’s jurisdiction demand is unreasonable because Fremantle doesn’t use writers on all shows — an assertion disputed by the guild.