Friday, March 12, 1999

‘Baywatch’ leans
toward relocating
to Australia

Not all labor factions here
have agreed on lower wages
and other concessions

By Tim Ryan


"Baywatch" executive producer Greg Bonann arrived in Australia today to reopen negotiations with officials about relocating the show there, since labor factions connected with television productions in Hawaii have not all agreed on lower wages and other concessions.

"The tide has turned toward Australia," Bonann said in a telephone interview from Los Angeles. "Australia is being very, very aggressive."

Two of the three unions involved in Hawaii film and television production apparently have agreed to wage concessions to lure the world's most popular syndicated television series here for a guaranteed two seasons, or 44 episodes. The Screen Actors Guild will lower wages for its members working on the show by 31 percent; the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Local 665 -- which provides crew for productions -- about 30 percent, sources said. The Directors Guild of America, which does not have a branch in Hawaii, has agreed to a 28 percent cut, Bonann said.

But the Teamsters union, which provides drivers, has not met with "Baywatch" producers here or in Los Angeles, or the Hawaii delegation negotiating to get the show here, although the organization's recording secretary has been here several days. Bonann, Hawaii state and Oahu officials refused comment on the Teamster issue.

The Hawaii delegation includes Al and April Masini, Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau President Tony Vericella, and Joe Blanco, Gov. Ben Cayetano's executive assistant.

Teamster recording secretary Leo Reed, of Teamsters Local 399 in Hollywood, arrived from Los Angeles earlier this week. The Local has about 3,500 members in California and 50 to 75 in Hawaii. A low-budget show like "Baywatch" would require about 10 drivers, compared to a more expensive series like "Fantasy Island," which would use about 15.

Reed met yesterday with International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees business representative Al Burns, and Mufi Hannemann, City Council chairman, to discuss labor concessions for the syndicated TV show "Pacific Blue," which wants to film two episodes here in May.

Though "Baywatch" was not discussed at the meeting, sources said Reed has the state's proposal to bring the program here and is reviewing it.

Messages left at Reed's hotel and at Burns' home were not returned.

"We have not yet met with the Teamsters, and ('Baywatch') will not make a decision about relocating before first talking to them," Bonann said.

What "Baywatch" producers are looking for is "really not money," but security for the show, Bonann insisted. "I need xxx a deal that will be in place for the life of the series if it goes six years," he said. That means labor concessions guaranteed for all six years, not just two.

The two-year guarantee will cost the show about $34.3 million -- $780,000 an episode -- with about 60 percent of that staying in Hawaii. The production would spend at least $20 million in the first year of filming here, and as much as $200 million if the show stays on the air six years.

Bonann returns to Los Angeles early next week. He has no plans to stop in Hawaii.

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