‘The Great Escape’ crew members walk off job in labor dispute

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Crew members from the new Los Angeles-based reality TV show “The Great Escape” walked off the job after talks between producers and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees broke down on Friday.

IATSE, which represents technical workers who operate behind the scenes on films and TV shows, has called a strike against the TNT series, alleging producers have blocked efforts to bring union benefits to the show’s crew.

“By obstructing the IATSE’s organizing efforts, the union has declared the show and company off-limits for its members,” IATSE said in a statement Saturday morning. “The hard working employees of ‘The Great Escape’ deserve the health, pension and safe working conditions that other workers in the entertainment industry have.”


“The Great Escape” is a competition action/adventure reality series hosted by Rich Eisen, one of NFL Network’s anchors, from the producers of the CBS hit”The Amazing Race.” The series, which premieres June 24, follows teams as they compete in challenges similar to scenes from action/adventure movies.

Headed by co-founders Bertram van Munster and Elise Doganieri, “The Great Escape” is produced by Profiles Television Productions, Fox TV Studios, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s Imagine TV, and creators Justin Hochberg and Charlie Ebersol.

Representatives of the show were not immediately available for comment.

The dispute marks the latest effort by IATSE to organize non-union shows in cable television, especially in the reality TV and documentary sector. In late 2010, the union waged a successful walkout against the producers of the reality TV show “The Biggest Loser.” And in February, IATSE and the Teamsters staged a strike against the producers of the cable show “1000 Ways to Die.”

The IATSE represents more than 100,000 members employed in the stagecraft, motion picture and television production, and trade show industries throughout the United States and Canada.


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