Pickets hit ‘Loser’ over non-union crew

Pressure mounts at NBC show due to strike

Pressure has mounted on NBC’s “The Biggest Loser,” which has been hit with a production crew strike because producers are using non-union crew to shoot the reality show.

A second day of protests took place Tuesday outside the set near the L.A. suburb of Calabasas, with about 50 picketers in the morning. Fewer than a dozen people crossed the picket line, according to the show’s d.p., Vanessa Holtgrewe.

The show’s two trainers — Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper — launched eBay auctions Tuesday for one-hour training sessions to raise funds for crew relief. The Michaels session had drawn 21 bids with a top offer of $6,500 as of mid-afternoon. Host Allison Sweeney also was auctioning a lunch date on eBay with a starting bid of $1,000, with proceeds donated to crew relief.

The Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees launched the strike against “Loser” a week ago as more than 50 crew members had voted to strike over producers’ refusal to sign an IATSE deal. NBC and production entities Reveille Prods., 25/7 Prods. and 3 Ball Prods. have not commented on the strike.

The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor held a news conference Tuesday to announce that it had officially endorsed the strike, noting that unions pledging their support for the strike including the nurses, teachers, longshoremen, hotel workers and truck drivers along with showbiz unions repping costume design, cinematography, acting and studio electrical work.

“L.A. labor will take our direction from the IATSE and the workers on the picket line; however, we intend to mobilize our vast membership and our resources to help bring a fair settlement to this dispute with ‘The Biggest Loser,'” said Maria Elena Durazo, leader of the L.A. County Federation of Labor. “The producers of this show want to make their own workers ‘the biggest losers,’ and the labor movement in L.A. is not going to let that happen.”

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