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Teamsters Threaten ‘Top Chef’ Star: “We’re gonna bash that pretty face in, you f*cking whore!”

Union picketers use sexist, racial and threatening rants to intimidate TV show's crew

Padma - Top Chef

Some things never change. After nearly 15 years of trying to clean up a reputation marred with corruption, shake-downs of the film industry, as well as violence, Boston’s famous Teamsters Local 25’s public face turned very ugly earlier this summer when the popular Bravo network show Top Chef rolled into Beantown using non-union production assistants and drivers.

Although it was only briefly reported on in June, the incident received wider coverage yesterday when Deadline.com covered it in some more detail.

In summary, when Bravo’s Top Chef began taping at Boston’s Steel & Rye in June, Teamster members from Local 25 greeted the crew and stars with picket signs, verbal abuse, alleged vandalism and even death threats.

When cookbook author, actress, model and ‘Top Chef‘ host Padma Lakshmi appeared at Boston’s Steak & Rye, according to Deadline.com, Teamster picketers got even uglier by threatening the famous host.

The Teamsters picketers were already mad. By the time Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi’s car pulled up to the Steel & Rye restaurant in the picturesque New England town of Milton just outside Boston, one of them ran up to her car and screamed, “We’re gonna bash that pretty face in, you f*cking whore!

The Teamsters’ threats didn’t just stop with threats at the show’s host, according to Deadline Hollywood’s report.

Jenn Levy, Bravo’s SVP 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.”

One report, dated back in June, states that, in addition to verbal assaults, there were “just under a dozen cars” that had their tires slashed.

There was a large film crew at Steel & Rye today filming a television program. During the course of the taping union picketers arrived and hassled members of the crew, pedestrians and a police officer who had been hired as safety detail. One passer by said the picketers were “aggressive”. Deputy Chief King stated that just under a dozen cars had their tires slashed at some point.

A ‘Top Chef’ crew member told Deadline that, in addition to the threats, there were racial, sexual and other verbal assaults on 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 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.

This is hardly the first time Teamsters Local 25 has been accused of shaking down and abusing people in the film industry.

In 2000, when the Teamsters wanted a concessions contract on a movie set that a member of another union had, rather than having her killed, the president of Local 25 (who, ultimately, went to prison) reportedly agreed instead to have the woman who had the contract beaten “to send [her] a message.”

In fact, in the early 2000s, the movie-industry shakedowns became so bad that “most major studio heads vowed to never again do business in Boston.”

Although Hollywood’s reluctance to film in Boston has changed to some degree in recent years, based on the threats and abuse aimed at the stars and crew of ‘Top Chef,’ it appears the Teamsters may not have changed at all.
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[Emphasis added throughout.]

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