NON-UNION FILM SET PICKETED CREW CLAIMS PRODUCERS WON'T LISTEN.
VALLENCIA - Some famous faces joined pickets crowding the gates of Valencia Stages on Thursday to protest working conditions on the set of the psychological thriller ``Deadly Course.''
James Cromwell (``Babe'' and ``Six Feet Under'') and Screen Actors Guild Vice President Mike Farrell (TV's ``M*A*S*H'') mingled with set builders and makeup artists in support of their fellow actors and crew members.
Crew members said the production company, Crystal Sky Communications, which advertised the show as a non-union production, were making crews work 18 to 22 hours a day for a flat fee, which averaged out to less than minimum wage.
Representatives from the production company did not return phone calls.
In an attempt to resolve their dispute, the workers called representatives Tuesday from SAG, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and the Teamsters. Meetings between the unions and producers were unsuccessful, and the workers walked off the job.
``We walked out because the producers refused to listen. We need benefits and pension and they refused to talk about that,'' said transportation captain Paul DiCocco III.
His concerns were echoed by Lyle Trachtenberg, international representative of IATSE, who was on the picket line with approximately 50 others.
``There were unsafe conditions on the set and a poor rest turnaround,'' he said. ``When we approached the producers, they basically said they didn't have the money and couldn't make a deal.''
Queries about the production were directed to Dorothy Koster, whose son is directing ``Deadly Curse.'' She said the crew was trying to muscle its way into a higher-paying production.
``It's very simple,'' she said. ``This is a $1 million budget, non-union movie that they are trying to bully into being a union production.''
Cromwell said the protest was necessary to help industry employees.
``It's important for us to be out here,'' Cromwell said. ``If this becomes the way of doing things, it endangers our entire industry.''
Carol Rock, (661) 257-5252
(1) Workers on ``Deadly Course,'' a TV movie under production at Valencia Stages, protest working conditions on the set.
(2 -- 3) Actor James Cromwell, above, stands on the picket line Thursday with the crew of ``Deadly Course'' outside Valencia Stages. The workers have picked up support from SAG, IATSE and the Teamsters union. Make-up artist Jaime Franco, right, holds a sign expressing her feelings toward the TV movie's producer, Jon Voight.
David R. Crane/Staff Photographer