A New York-based writers’ union alleges Original Media, which produces “Swamp People,” failed to write checks for tens of thousands of dollars worth of overtime pay and won’t come to the bargaining table on various union issues. Original Media, however, disputes those claims, noting the writers for that program aren’t eligible for overtime pay.
The Louisiana-centric reality TV show follows alligator hunters in Atchafalaya River Basin swamps, and it premiered its sixth season in February. Since debuting in 2010, it has collected nearly $2 million worth of state film tax credits, with some $800,000 more pending.
WGAE executive director Lowell Peterson said the union members he represents are responsible for writing a great deal of the story-lines, character profiles and even scripts on “Swamp People.”
“You would be amazed at how much writing gets done on a reality show,” he said. “It stretches from the most basic structure of the narrative. The folks we represent map out the narrative and the characters. If all they did was let the camera roll, it’d be a boring story. They want to make sure every episode is good TV. … The dirty little secret is they often write the dialogue.”