Rally by 300 Movie Extras Brings Changes in Film's Pay Procedures

Associated Press

About 300 movie extras staged an angry rally during the shooting of a science-fiction film in the desert near Mexico, saying they had not been paid on time, sheriff's officials said.

The extras returned to work Tuesday after a state labor commissioner intervened on the set of "Stargate," which stars James Spader and Kurt Russell.

Deputy labor commissioner David Dorame said BYFG Production Inc. agreed to make changes in its procedures after a preliminary investigation indicated that the firm was in violation of some state work rules.

"I think it was more of a miscommunication," Dorame said Tuesday. "The company's management was very cooperative."

Film security officials had called the Imperial County sheriff's office late Monday afternoon to report a disturbance by 300 extras.

An executive with the film, who asked not to be identified, described the incident as a misunderstanding and said the extras have done their jobs well.

The confusion arose because most of the extras, many of them unemployed or migrant workers, were used to being paid immediately in cash, and the company used a payroll system that sent out checks, she said.

Movie officials apparently had put the extras to work before having them fill out required tax forms or verifying that they have permission to work in the United States, Dorame said. The film production spokeswoman denied that. She said all the extras can legally work in the United States.

Changes were ordered to avoid further delay of wage payments, and movie officials complied, Dorame said.

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