'Bash That Pretty Face In': Bravo's Boston 'Top Chef' Taping Marred By Teamster Threats and Slurs

The Boston Herald reports that “Teamsters Local 25 — the crew that drives for most TV and movie productions made in Massachusetts — reportedly harassed and threatened” the cast and crew of Bravo’s “Top Chef” when they taped their latest season in the area and used non-union drivers. Unions rarely make national news, and this will probably be no exception. What about "Entertainment Tonight" or "Access Hollywood"?

When comely “Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi arrived on the set, picketers called her a “(expletive) whore,” a Herald source confirmed, and threatened to “bash that pretty face in.” Deadline.com said there was more than that:

“She was scared,” said a Top Chef crewmember who witnessed the incident, which occurred in June while filming an episode for the upcoming 12th season of Bravo’s popular skein, which premieres October 15. “He was screaming at her aggressively and violently.”

...Jenn Levy, Bravo’s [senior vice president for] Production, wasn’t spared. Arriving at the restaurant in her black SUV, she soon found herself running a gauntlet of vitriol. “She got of her car in front of the location and quickly ran through the picket line,” a source said. “They were yelling, ‘You bitch! You slut! We’re gonna get you!’ It went on like that all day.”

John King, Milton’s Deputy Police Chief, said the Teamsters were “threatening, heckling and harassing.” The first officer on the scene, he said, had to call for back-up after the Teamsters “gave the officer trouble.” Reading from the police report, he said the Teamsters were “hostile, swearing, and refusing to let people come in and out. Officers repeatedly tried to de-escalate the situation.” When more police arrived, the Teamsters went to the show’s hospitality tent and “harassed the crew there.” When the officers went there, King said, “A group of them slashed the tires on 14 different cars owned by the crew.”

...“As any employee of our show walked on or off set, the picketers verbally attacked us, calling the gays ‘fags,’ the blacks ‘niggers’ and most of the women ‘sluts and whores,’ ” the [Bravo] crewmember said. “It got worse as the day went on. They chased us down the sidewalk when we had to run from one end of the location to the next in the middle of our busy work day. They threatened to kill us, beat us, and said that they would find us and force us out of the city. Needless to say, we were terrified. I’m a strong person, but being called names and yelled at and harassed for 12 hours while working, I started to crumble. I was scared and worried for my safety.”


The Herald did nudge a comment from a union flack named Melissa Hurley:

“As far as we’re concerned, nothing happened,” Hurley said. “This is typical of nonunion companies who often make excuses for why they won’t hire union labor.”

According to the network source, Bravo did try to reach a compromise with the union, but were unable to do so.

A state Film Office spokeswoman said the office was not involved in bringing the show to Boston and had received no complaints regarding the Teamsters’ action.

For years Hollywood avoided the Bay State because of the heavy-handed tactics of the local Teamsters. The union’s past has included convictions for money laundering, extortion, racketeering and shaking down movie producers who tried to film in Boston. [Union president Sean] O’Brien has said the Local has cleaned up its act and now has a great working relationship with most of the productions that film here.

File Under: No Compliments To The “Chef.”

Earlier: Maxim magazine's Hot 100 ranks Michelle Obama as sexier than Padma Lakshmi

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis