As the writers and actors strikes rage on in Hollywood, entertainment continues to lean on reality TV more and more. Now, reality stars are starting to speak out about their compensation and treatment as well, including Captain Lee Rosbach from Bravo’s Below Deck. But it may not be quite the take you might expect. Yahoo Entertainment recently sat down with the longtime reality star and got his perspective on striking, but before we go there, a little scene setting is in order.
Recently, Bethenny Frankel, star of The Real Housewives of New York City and other related spinoffs for Bravo, made quite a splash when she began publicly exploring the idea that reality TV stars should go on strike to prevent increased exploitation during the ongoing SAG strike. Reality shows are unscripted and therefore not bound by Writers Guild of America rules, and the people appearing on the shows are, generally speaking, not members of the Screen Actor’s Guild.
In a social media video post, Frankel called reality stars “the stepchildren, the losers, the mules, the pack horses, the ones that the entertainment industry is going to rely on right now to carry the water and do the heavy lifting.”
Now she has put her words into action, as it was reported by Variety on Friday that Frankel has teamed up with big-name attorneys Bryan Freedman and Mark Geragos. Freedman told Variety that he had heard from roughly 50 reality stars who claim they have been used and unfairly treated.
Is Rosbach in that camp? Sort of. “I’m not a very political person,” Rosbach said. “From my point of view, would I like to be paid better? Sure, who wouldn’t like to be paid better? And would I like to be paid for all the reruns that there are? Yeah, of course, I would. I don’t know anybody in their right mind who would say, ‘no I don’t think I want to get paid for that.’”
Rosbach has appeared on 10 seasons of Below Deck, and on a network that shows plenty of reruns of its original programming. However, even after seeing his face that much on TV, he’s not ready to go all-in with Frankel’s ideas.
“As far as unionizing and going on strike, I think that’s pretty harsh rhetoric,” Rosbach said.
The reality star and yacht captain went on to say that he’s worked on a couple of union shows in the past and knows how they are run. And it’s already quite similar to his reality TV work.
“In all fairness to our producers and our production companies, while they weren’t union, they did adhere to union standards,” Rosbach said of the work he’s done on Below Deck. “They paid union scale to the camera operators and got their lunch breaks on time and paid the penalty if they didn’t get their lunch breaks on time. So even though they weren’t union they got treated as if they were. So I thought our production company was pretty fair about that. And everyone I’ve worked with that has been non-union has been the same, they play by union rules.”
Rosbach is currently taking a break from Below Deck but said he has other projects in the works with Bravo. And if all this talk about more strikes in the entertainment industry is enough to make a skipper queasy, Rosbach has also been working with Dramamine on a ‘Ditch the Drama’ Sweepstakes, which will send winners on a drama-free dream vacation. And hey, there are no strikes on vacation.