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Reality TV’s worker scandal: Shows accused of stealing millions in wages

A new union report alleges rampant lawlessness in the lucrative and growing reality TV industry. The Writers Guild of America, East, which authored the report based on a survey of current and former non-union workers, contends that it reveals an ugly reality behind top shows like Pawn Stars and Fatal Encounters, which have been supplanting unionized, scripted sitcoms and dramas.

“I’ve known people to work upwards of 100 hours in a given week while shooting and then had to immediately start writing the script upon return, with no down time, in order to have the script ready in time for the editor,” producer David Van Taylor charges in the report. “There’s no compensation for that additional work, and it’s especially hard when you have a family.”

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