Thursday, January 10, 2008

Strike Day 67- 68



I was gone because I've been picketing all week without having really fully recovered from being ill this past weekend.

I passed out yesterday without making a Blog entry.

But if the Blog must suffer in order for another warm body to be out there on the picket line, then so be it my friends -- SO BE IT!!!

These past 2 days have actually been quite eventful out in my little corner of "WGA picket line" world.

Yesterday -- Wednesday -- we were visited by a couple of actors from the last show my partner and I did, who marched in solidarity with us for our entire 3-hour shift and then some.

This was good news for us -- and for the tourists, whose ranks happened to include some big fans of our show.

We were also visited by some unexpected guests -- including a father and son welding team from Oklahoma who were driving around looking for Mann's Chinese Theater.

I gave them directions, which were not that difficult from Warner Bros.

We were also visited by a larger-than-life (physically as well as personality-wise) furniture-liquidator from Northern California who grew up in Burbank and was related to William Wellman, director of 1927's "WINGS," the first movie to win an OSCAR for Best Picture. He was there to take the Warner Bros. VIP Tour but ended up grabbing a picket sign and walking alongside us for about half-an-hour. He called up his girlfriend -- a cop in Louisiana -- and asked her to guess what he was doing. Then he passed his cell-phone to my strike-buddy, who chanted across the country: "ON STRIKE, SHUT 'EM DOWN -- HOLLYWOOD'S A UNION TOWN!" The lady cop proceeded to tell him about a cartoon that recently ran in her local newspaper. It showed a guy getting his new 60" HDTV delivered. The delivery man dropped it off, had him sign for it and told him: "Enjoy the re-runs." She finished up by telling us to: "Give them hell."

Well, I don't know if we're really doing that but we were back on the line today -- Thursday -- and today's best guest was a TV sports cameraman and member of IATSE Local 600, who was driving by Warner Bros. on his way to visit his father's grave at Forest Lawn cemetery and decided to stop by and join us. He picked up a picket sign and asked how things were going with the strike. We did our best to fill him in. He told us that after a decade-ago strike, his union had accepted the companies keeping scab cameramen who had started working as replacements for union members during that strike. The union had even accepted taking those scab cameramen on as new members.

To be honest, that kind of blew me away.

Luckily for us writers there really is no way for scabs to do our jobs in the world of television, where intimate knowledge of characters and their world are prerequisites for being able to do even a remotely decent job. With a handful of incredibly-talented exceptions, people from outside the belly of the beast of a current TV show would have no chance at writing an episode.

However, in the land of movies, things are a little different. There it is easier to hunt down non-union but high-talent writers, either in schools or from the stacks of "new submission" spec scripts or from English-speaking lands overseas (and in Canada!). Of course, most of those English-speaking foreign lands have their own writer's guilds which have relationships with the WGA that are supposed to make it impossible for their guild-members to do things like scab work during a strike.

Anyhow, scabbing is not a major issue for this strike -- at least not yet. And that is a good thing.

For the 4th day in a row I was happily surprised by the turn-out at our Gate -- after the Holiday hiatus we seem to have come back to the picket lines without missing a beat.

Of course I don't know how the numbers are holding up anywhere and everywhere else but I certainly hope we are the rule and not just an exception.

Overall, I would have to rate this as a good week on the WGA side of the strike.

On the plus side we got the UA deal. On the minus side, John Ridley went "Fi-Core."

I suppose you could argue that makes it pretty much a wash -- but I would have to say that the United Artists deal is a bigger gain than John Ridley is a loss. Plus now we seem to be on the verge of a similar deal with the Weinstein Company. I don't like to talk about this stuff before it becomes REAL but both sides are discussing it in public so I imagine it will become real some time during the next week.

There was also the beginning of the end of this year's Award's shows. Ah, well. Maybe the DGA will get a deal before the Oscars and that deal will include reasonable profit-participation for New Media. Otherwise... I wouldn't get my hopes up for this year's Academy Awards working out too well.

A lot of people going in and out of work at Warners stopped to talk to us today and to tell us they support us and to tell us to "keep hanging in there" -- and this on the same week that Warner Bros. announced their Studio Services department, which provides all kinds of maintenance for physical production, will probably be laying-off large numbers of employees starting next week.

One woman on her way out of the studio actually apologized to us. I told her it wasn't her fault.

To be honest, it always makes me feel a little better when the studio folks are supportive. It reminds me that I'm not crazy and that we are not being unreasonable and they we in the WGA really -- REALLY -- didn't want for this strike to happen.

As I keep telling every tourist who stops to ask:

It is all very simple. It is all about ONE THING: profit participation when stuff we wrote is delivered to the audience via the INTERNET.

That's all we want. And that's what the companies -- so far at least -- refuse to even seriously discuss making provisions for.

And so the strike goes on.

Somewhere over the hill, over the mountain of months which lie before us -- months worth of weeks and weeks worth of days -- somewhere over that mountain lies the First of July. And on the First of July, whether the AMPTP likes it or not, we in the WGA will be joined on our picket lines all over Los Angeles by the "Big Battalions" of SAG.

Again I ask the question: how long will the companies hold their line when there are not only no scripts... but no actors -- be they bit-players or above-the-title movie stars -- as well...?

Not too f*@#ing long.

Hopefully it won't take until then for the strike to be resolved.

But if it does... it does.

Until then, just keep putting one foot in front of the other, one foot in front of the other, one foot in front of the other...

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