Cayetano says they willBy Tim Ryan and Mike Yuen
accept less so Hawaii can
land the TV show
Gov. Ben Cayetano said today that the Teamsters union, after being the main stumbling block, has made a concession that could lead to the world's No. 1 syndicated television show, "Baywatch," relocating to Hawaii.
The concession, which Cayetano said he was not at liberty to detail, involves "a modest amount of money."
The state and the show's producers will be seeking additional concessions from the Teamsters, which would provide about a dozen drivers for "Baywatch" if it were to relocate to the isles, but, Cayetano said, "We have made good progress."
Cayetano added that the state is now also offering "a couple hundred thousand dollars" in cash to help subsidize the show, which government and tourism industry officials are convinced would offer much more in free advertising to promote Hawaii.
The state has until 5 p.m. tomorrow to either convince the Teamsters to make concessions or come up with other financial incentives to Pearson Television, the show's owners, or lose the show to Australia.
Cayetano's remarks come on the heels of his impassioned plea over the weekend to the International Alliance of Theatrical State Employees to accept wage and other cuts so "Baywatch" will relocate here for a guaranteed two years and 44 episodes.
The union, which supplies crew members to television and motion picture productions and represents the largest number of workers on these shows, agreed to accept for one year concessions of 12 to 15 percent -- about $25,000 an episode. "This is historic to have the governor come and ask us personally to help the state," Al Burns, the union's business representative, said of Cayetano's plea.
Agreeing to the concessions is a huge step in landing "Baywatch," which seemed destined to relocate from Los Angeles to Australia, the producers' first choice.
"I'm stunned and in awe of what the IA, Al Burns and Gov. Cayetano is doing to help us," said Greg Bonann, "Baywatch" executive producer and creator, in a telephone interview from his Malibu home. "I am encouraged, but it's premature to say we're coming."
About 60 of International Alliance's members will work on "Baywatch" if the show relocates here. The Screen Actors Guild, Directors Guild of America and the International Alliance had agreed in principle to a lower pay rate, but the Teamsters local would not sign off on the deal.
Leo Reed, Teamsters director of Local 399 in Hollywood, defended his no-concession position, saying he must be "consistent and maintain wage and benefit standards throughout the country."
After his 30-minute meeting at IA headquarters, Cayetano called Reed who, sources said, reiterated the union's position.
Bonann apologized yesterday for remarks he made last week about Reed, when he called him "stupid" and the Teamsters leadership "knuckleheads."
"That was uncalled for and unprofessional," Bonann said. "I said it in the heat of the moment at my extreme disappointment that the Teamsters and us could not come to an agreement.
"I respect Leo Reed and the difficult job he has and I regret letting my emotions take over. I apologize and I hope to tell Leo that face to face."