Musicians Sue NBC for Wages on ‘The Kelly Clarkson Show,’ Other Live Broadcasts

kelly clarkson show wages

The largest union representing professional musicians is suing NBC Universal for allegedly stiffing members who worked on some of the network’s biggest live broadcasts, including episodes of The Kelly Clarkson Show, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Seth Meyers, and even morning news juggernaut Today.

“NBC owes musicians probably hundreds of thousands of dollars in wages. Unfortunately, whenever AFM attempts to resolve these claims in good faith, NBC denies, disrespects, and drags its feet. Meanwhile, we have musicians who have been waiting more than two years for their paychecks,” Jennifer P. Garner, the AFM lawyer who filed the lawsuit, says in a statement to Rolling Stone.

According to the new complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan, NBC Universal breached its collective bargaining agreement with the union by failing to pay covered musicians for the use of backing tracks, incomplete tracks, and pre-recorded material used in featured artist performances and failing to “ensure the engagement” of qualified session oversight contractors and orchestra leaders.

“NBC and one or more Doe Defendants have failed in numerous instances in connection with The Kelly Clarkson Show, Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Seth Meyers, and Today to pay the leader or single musician premium owed,” the lawsuit states.

The filing further alleges NBC “failed in numerous instances to pay at least the minimum scale wages owed to musicians for broadcasts of The Kelly Clarkson Show and Today,” despite the contractual agreement.

It singles out Clarkson’s 2021 special Christmas episode as one example, alleging NBC failed to engage and pay contractors and leaders for the special and “failed to pay wage premiums owed for work performed beyond an eight-hour spread and/or for work performed between 12:00 midnight and 8:00 a.m., as required.”

“NBC further failed to pay meal penalties owed for requiring musicians engaged for the Kelly Clarkson Christmas special to work more than six consecutive hours without a meal break,” the filing states.

Media contacts for the shows listed in the lawsuit did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Rolling Stone.

Garner vows the union will not back down. “We will hold NBC fully accountable,” she says.


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