Saturday, March 13, 1999

stand firm on
‘Baywatch’ wages

The union's rejection of
wage cuts could send the
show to Australia

By Tim Ryan


"Baywatch" may land on the shores of Australia rather than Hawaii because the Teamsters Union says it won't give producers the same wage concessions as other unions.

If the average 30-percent wage and benefit decrease agreed to by the Screen Actors Guild and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Local 665 is the final offer from "Baywatch," then "tell Crocodile Dundee that the boys said hello," said Leo Reed, a top official for Local 399 of the Teamsters Union in Hollywood.

The Teamsters provide drivers for television and film productions; IATSE provides crew members.

Reed on Monday arrived in Honolulu from Los Angeles for several meetings here, but none connected with "Baywatch." The Teamsters' leader said yesterday he was upset at what he called attempts by state officials to pressure him to agree to wage concessions to persuade "Baywatch" to relocate to Hawaii.

"I feel like (the producers) are using the state to pressure me," Reed said. "When I got here everyone was telling me who I have to talk to. I didn't come here to speak (about) 'Baywatch.' "

Gov. Ben Cayetano this week had an assistant telephone Reed to discuss what was becoming the deteriorating chances of landing "Baywatch," but Reed was unable to return the call.

"The governor very much wants 'Baywatch' to move here, in part, to show that Hawaii can be competitive with Los Angeles and Australia in attracting productions," said Joe Blanco, Cayetano's executive assistant.

Cayetano said he has a high degree of confidence that producers will decide to relocate the syndicated television show to Hawaii.

"We're very close. All of the "Baywatch" people want to come here," Cayetano said yesterday.

When the meeting with Reed failed, state officials then asked City Councilman Mufi Hannemann, a relative of Reed's, to contact the union leader.

"Mufi was very understanding," Reed said. "I told him I have an agenda, and I'm going to do it and not let anybody put a gun to my head to make a quick decision. I have to look at everything."

Reed also met with Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau President Tony Vericella, who gave the union leader the "Baywatch" proposal. Reed said he was "shocked" at the state's and other unions' proposals for wage and other concessions, saying "it's lower than our lowest rate ever anywhere."

Reed said the Teamsters do have a scale designed for low budget productions -- those under $3 million -- movies of the week, and cable shows. That rate includes a 15 percent decrease in salaries and no vacation or holiday pay, accounting for about another 8 percent, he said.

"We have never gone lower than these rates with any producer," Reed said. "Baywatch" is asking for "lower than whale s--- and that's on the bottom of the ocean."

Asked if he would consider the 23 percent break for low-budget shows, Reed said he wouldn't commit "until I look at the whole picture." But several sources have said the across-the-board reductions the Teamsters are being offered is a far better deal than what the other unions have agreed to. Another issue that must be settled is how many drivers the show would require and if some executives would be allowed to drive themselves to locations instead of having to use a chauffeur.

"Baywatch" Executive Producer Greg Bonann arrived in Australia yesterday to reopen negotiations with officials about moving the show there since they have been unable to meet with Reed.

"What we want is not money but security for the show," said Bonann who is expected to return to Los Angeles early next week. "I need ... a deal that will be in place for the life of the series if it goes six years. That means labor concessions guaranteed for all six years, not just two."

Star-Bulletin reporter Mike Yuen contributed to this report.

E-mail to City Desk

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
[Stylebook] [Feedback]

© 1999 Honolulu Star-Bulletin