‘Survivor’ Post-Production Editors Go on Strike Seeking IATSE Contract

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The post-production crew of the series “Survivor” has launched a strike against Mark Burnett’s Island Post Prods. Inc. — less than six weeks before the premiere of the CBS reality show’s 29th season.

Representatives for the crew announced Wednesday no editorial work would resume on the series until the company agrees to a union contract. The crew also said post-production work has been under way on the 90-minute premiere episode scheduled to air on Sept. 24.

CBS declined to comment. Reps for Burnett had no immediate comment.

According to crew reps, Burnett’s company was notified on Tuesday of the editors’  intent to seek a union contract with health and retirement benefit and had asked for immediate negotiations through Local 700 of the Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.

“This show has no hidden immunity idol,” said A.J. Catoline, a reality TV editor and member of the Motion Picture Editors Guild Board of Directors. “It needs to bring its employment practices in line with the industry standards observed by other such shows, including CBS’ ‘Big Brother’ and Mark Burnett’s ‘The Voice.’ Its post crew deserves the benefits and security of a union contract.”

The crew noted that for each episode in the series, it edits approximately 250 hours of raw footage down to one hour for broadcast. It also noted that the crew has received a total of 16 Emmy nominations in the category of picture editing for a reality series.

“This wildly successful program has helped to define the genre of reality television, and editors play a critical role in shaping the show,” said Alan Heim, president of Local 700. “They seek the same health benefits, pensions, and basic protections that their counterparts elsewhere in the industry have long enjoyed. After 28 successful seasons and 16 Emmy nominations, that doesn’t seem too much to ask.”

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  1. James says:

    I’m also a reality/talk show editor still in the early years of my career, and it is very upsetting that such a successful show backed by CBS/Burnett would not be offering editors a union contract from the beginning, let alone 29 seasons later. If not big names like Survivor, then who?! Freelance editing is a grim scene when it comes to topics like benefits and protection. Reality production companies have abused the competitiveness and desperation for work of editors for too long. We allow ourselves to be abused on so many levels out of fear of the next desperate guy taking our jobs. The way the production companies see it, if I won’t work for crap pay and no benefits, someone else will; and until all editors band together, they remain correct.

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