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SAG-AFTRA backs Bethenny Frankel’s efforts to unionize reality stars – TheFantasyTimes

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By Jitin Gambhir

SAG-AFTRA backs Bethenny Frankel’s efforts to unionize reality stars

Bethenny Frankel has sparked the interest of SAG-AFTRA, the dual labor union representing members of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. In a memo titled “SAG-AFTRA Statement on the Representation and Protection of Reality Performers,” the organization expressed its support for Frankel’s legal battle against NBC and Bravo over reality TV exploitation. SAG-AFTRA stated that reality performers can be covered under their Network Code Agreement, depending on the production structure and the performers involved. The union is ready to assist Frankel and other reality performers in their fight against studios and production companies that exploit their talent. They encourage reality performers and members to reach out to SAG-AFTRA’s Entertainment Contracts Department for collaboration in protecting reality performers and ending exploitative practices. Frankel shared the statement on her Instagram page, urging others to use their voice and join the fight. While most comments showed support, Frankel warned that celebrities who oppose the cause would not age well. Last month, she also called on reality stars to join the ongoing writers’ and actors’ strike to demand fair treatment and value. Frankel revealed that she was only paid $7,250 for her first season on “Real Housewives of New York City” and has not received any residuals from it. She believes that reality stars deserve better compensation and recognition for the entertainment they provide. Frankel hired attorneys Bryan Freedman and Mark Geragos to address the issue and sent a threatening letter to NBCUniversal’s General Counsel and Executive Vice President. The letter accused NBC and Bravo of manipulating reality stars’ mental state, distributing non-consensual pornography, and covering up acts of sexual violence. Freedman stated that he had heard from around 50 reality show cast members, but the number has since grown to at least 80. NBCUniversal responded, emphasizing their commitment to maintaining a safe and respectful workplace and taking appropriate action when complaints are brought to their attention.

Bethenny Frankel has piqued the interest of SAG-AFTRA.

The dual labor union — which represents members of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists — issued a lengthy memo Thursday titled “SAG-AFTRA Statement on the Representation and Protection of Reality Performers.”

The letter — which was shared by the “Real Housewives of New York City” alum via her Instagram page — states that the organization “has engaged in discussions” with Frankel’s attorneys about her legal war against NBC and its subsidiary Bravo regarding their “widely consumed reality TV universe.”

According to SAG-AFTRA, “reality performers” are eligible to be covered “under our Network Code Agreement,” pending “the structure of the production and the performers involved.”

“We stand ready to assist Bethenny Frankel, Bryan Freedman and Mark Geragos along with reality performers and our members in the fight and are tired of studios and production companies trying to circumvent the Union in order to exploit the talent that they rely upon to make their product,” the statement reads.


Bethenny Frankel
SAG-AFTRA is supporting Bethenny Frankel’s efforts to unionize reality stars and end “exploitative practices.”
bethennyfrankel/Instagram

“We encourage any reality performers and/or members to reach out to SAG-AFTRA’s
Entertainment Contracts Department so that we may work together toward the protection of the reality performers ending the exploitative practices that have developed in this area and to engage in a new path to Union coverage.”

Frankel, 52, captioned the post, “Use your voice. The reality reckoning has begun…”

Though the majority of comments left beneath the upload expressed support for the cause, Frankel warned that those “from celebs” who are “against this are going to age like milk.”


SAG-AFTRA statement
The dual labor union wants to “work together toward the protection of the reality performers.”

“Not to mention the noticeably silent ones,” she added. “Hmmm.”

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Last month, the Skinnygirl mogul publicly urged current and former reality stars to join the ongoing writers’ and actors’ strike in order to “be treated fairly and valued.”


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“Hollywood is on strike. Entertainers are fighting for residuals, and no one will promote anything. Why isn’t reality TV on strike?” she asked her more than 3 million followers, claiming that she was paid only $7,250 for her first “RHONY” season and hasn’t seen a cent from it since.

“I myself have generated millions and millions of dollars in advertising and online impressions being on reality TV and have never made a single residual,” she explained. “So either I’m missing something, or we’re getting screwed, too.”


Bethenny Frankel
The “RHONY” alum recently urged reality stars to join the ongoing writers and actors’ strike in order to “be treated fairly and valued.”
bethennyfrankel/Instagram

Frankel — who pointed out that reality stars are often considered the “losers” of Tinseltown — noted that they were the ones who “provided all of the entertainment” during the last writers’ strike in 2007, which lasted a year.

“It’s complete and total bulls–t,” she said. “It just occurred to me — everyone is talking about actors, and we don’t get paid s–t.”

The mother of one then hired legal eagles Freedman and Geragos, who last week fired off a threat to NBCUniversal’s General Counsel and Executive Vice President of Comcast Corporation Kimberley Harris.


Writers' and actors' strike
“It just occurred to me — everyone is talking about actors, and we don’t get paid s–t,” Frankel said.
Corbis via Getty Images

The letter accused NBC and Bravo of making “deliberate attempts” to “manufacture mental instability” by plying their talent with “alcohol while depriving them of food and sleep, as well as denying mental health treatment for those displaying obvious and alarming signs of mental deterioration.”

The memo also accused the networks of “distributing and/or condoning the distribution of non-consensual pornography,” going on to mention the “distribution of revenge porn.”

It concluded with allegations that NBC and Bravo are “covering up acts of sexual violence.”


Bethenny Frankel
The former Bravolebrity has since waged a legal war against NBCUniversal.
bethennyfrankel/Instagram

Freedman said at the time that he’d had heard from roughly “50 reality show cast members,” but an insider later told TheFantasyTimes that number had grown to “at least 80.”

In response, a network spokesperson told us in a statement, “NBCUniversal is committed to maintaining a safe and respectful workplace for cast and crew on our reality shows. At the outset, we require our third-party production partners to have appropriate workplace policies and training in place.”

The statement continued, “If complaints are brought to our attention, we work with our production partners to ensure that timely, appropriate action is or has been taken, including investigations, medical and/or psychological support, and other remedial action that may be warranted such as personnel changes.”

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