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Unions seize on "Kid Nation" flap to air reality TV complaints

Unions seize on "Kid Nation" flap to air reality TV complaints

Hollywood unions have stepped into the controversy over a CBS reality series in which youngsters run their own town, saying networks exploit reality television to keep costs down by avoiding paying writers and actors.
"Kid Nation" became the subject of a New Mexico attorney general's investigation after one of the featured children's parents complained that her daughter was hurt during production.
Union representatives are seizing on the controversy over the show to air their grievances with reality television.
"To me, this is the sweatshop of the entertainment industry," Jeff Hermanson, assistant executive director of Writers Guild of America, West, said in Wednesday's Los Angeles Times.
The complaints are the latest in a line of union objections to reality shows' contracting practices. Union representatives argue that the programs have writers who should be compensated according to union guidelines and that some contestants are performers who could be covered under collective bargaining agreements.
"What's happened with 'Kid Nation' is typical and universal, but then it's that much worse because it's about children," said Hermanson, whose union is in the midst of negotiating a new contract with TV networks and movie studios.
Screen Actors Guild representatives, meanwhile, became involved in the dustup over the show after hearing complaints from parents, members and former young performers who were "appalled at the way these kids were treated," deputy national executive director Pamm Fair said.
The guild looked at the contract between parents and producers, she said, "and it's been a long time since we've seen such egregious provisions for any performer, let alone children."
The union actions came a week after a complaint charging "abuse and neglect" was made public by the mother of a 12-year-old girl who was burned in the face while cooking on the show.
New Mexico Attorney General Gary King said he will investigate whether producers lawfully kept state inspectors, who wanted to review work permits for the children, from the site.
CBS Corp. board member Linda Griego said directors are making inquiries to insure the laws were followed.
Lawyers for the network have maintained that no work permits were needed because the children were "participating," and not working, during the filming of the program.


Updated : 2020-12-02 04:11 GMT+08:00