Reality television producers are returning to Baton Rouge for another season of shows following the city's first responders.
“First Responders Live” will follow local police, fire and EMS officers. The show will premiere June 12 on Fox, according to a Wednesday news release from the mayor's office. Baton Rouge is one of five to seven American cities that will be featured.
Despite the name, the show won’t be truly live; there will be a delay so producers can edit out things like patients’ sensitive medical information, said Veneeth Iyengar, the city-parish's assistant chief administrative officer.
“They were very cognizant of that,” he said.
Last fall, local paramedics were featured in the A&E series "Nightwatch." The show "shed a great light" on Baton Rouge, Metro Councilwoman Barbara Freiberg said Wednesday before the council unanimously signed off on more filming.
"Nightwatch" was popular with viewers, Elton Jones, of 44 Blue Productions, told the council. He said the new endeavor will be an extension of last year's show, though under a new name and for a different network.
He directed further questions to the mayor's office.
“We welcome 44 Blue Productions back to Baton Rouge to showcase even more of our highly-skilled first responders,” Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome wrote in the news release.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for a nationwide audience to see our first responders in action and to learn a bit about our great city.”
Filming will begin sometime between mid-May and the end of July, but an exact date hasn't been set, Baton Rouge Film Commission Executive Director Katie Pryor wrote in an email to The Advocate.
“The department of EMS is very happy to participate in this upcoming show and to work with this production company again,” EMS Executive Director Chad Guillot wrote in a statement. “They have proven to show the true nature of our city and department accurately. This project will give the public a chance to see how hard our first responders work and how our services impact the citizens of our parish.”
In other business, labor unions came out to speak in favor of a legislative effort to empower local governments to raise the minimum wage in their cities and parishes. Councilwoman Erika Green had planned to ask her colleagues to sign a resolution in support of House Bill 422, as New Orleans City Council has done, though she decided to defer the matter for two weeks.
Painters, iron workers, glass workers and other laborers wearing “Unleash Local” pins spoke of the need to pass the bill and empower local politicians to raise the minimum wage above the federal standard.
“Who can live on $7.25 (an hour)?” asked Frank Curiel of Local 99, the Laborers’ International Union of North America.
State legislators in other areas of the state shouldn’t be deciding what Baton Rouge workers make, but locals are sensitive to the community’s needs, Curiel said.
Other supporters said conservative politicians should support the measure because it returns power to local government. They also pointed out that Louisiana was the first state to take control of setting the minimum wage back in the 1990s, but it didn’t lead to a surge in Louisiana’s economy or working conditions so authority over the wage should be rolled back to local control.
Councilman Dwight Hudson, however, noted that when Seattle raised its minimum wage, it put a strain on families who had to pay more for child care, and when Illinois did so, it wound up costing taxpayers more to fund increased government salaries.
Green asked for another two weeks to give her time to explain the matter to her colleagues. As Hudson pointed out, there were also several absences including Republican Pro Tem Scott Wilson and — perhaps more critically for Green — a pair of Democrats, LaMont Cole and Tara Wicker.