The editors have spoken: Just six weeks before the 29th cycle of Survivor is set to premiere, the long-running reality hit’s editing team has gone on strike.
Earlier today, the Motion Picture Editors Guild announced the walk-off on Twitter:
Sources say the Guild notified the Survivor producers that their editors wanted a union contract and requested that negotiations start immediately. When their letter did not receive a reply, the editors went on strike. As first reported by by Deadline, the roughly two dozen employees are primarily seeking health coverage and pension benefits.
“This wildly successful program has helped to define the genre of reality television, and editors play a critical role in shaping the show” said Editors Guild President Alan Heim, A.C.E. in a statement. “They seek the same health benefits, pensions, and basic protections that their counterparts elsewhere in the industry have long enjoyed. After 28 successful seasons and 16 Emmy nominations, that doesn’t seem too much to ask.”
The strike has the potential to delay the return of the series—this cycle is officially titled Survivor: San Juan del Sur - Blood vs. Water—which is scheduled to launch Sept. 24. Last week, CBS announced Survivor’s premiere would be extended to 90 minutes, a move that increases the workload for the show’s editors. The Survivor team shoots about 250 hours of footage to create one episode, host Jeff Probst said in a 2012 interview, and we’re told this fall’s premiere cut is due at the network next week.
“There’s a lot of work that remains to be done before they have anything that they can actually broadcast, and right now that work is not happening,” said a person close to the situation. “This definitely starts to become more problematic the longer it goes on.”
The editors on at least two of Survivor executive producer Mark Burnett’s other hit shows—ABC’s Shark Tank and NBC’s The Voice—are already unionized under MPEG’s parent union IATSE. Survivor is also up for two Emmys this year—one for editing and the other for cinematography.
CBS and Mark Burnett Productions did not reply to an official request for comment.
UPDATE: Survivor strike over