Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Strike Day 88 (13 A.D.)

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Not original, I grant you -- but very, very true.

If we were the Writers Guild of China today would have been the luckiest of times -- day 88 -- double wealth, double fortune, double prosperity (the Chinese pronunciation of "8" is identical to the word for "money").

Only time will tell.

Started out pretty cold today but warmed up as the sun kept climbing, which was nice.

What wasn't so nice was the inarguably thin showing at all the Warner Bros. gates.

Avon Gate #5 actually wasn't that bad off, compared to the rest. We're probably the smallest gate and we still had 4 or 5 people picketing for most of the morning. The Main Gate (#2) had only 10 to 12 people picketing, which was not too good.

I think one of the reasons our numbers fell off yesterday and today was the big "Unity Rally" at Fox on Monday. Oddly enough, in the immediate aftermath of those big city-wide events, I think lots of people feel like they've earned a day off. Those big rallies, while energizing, can also be draining, and I think that can keep some of us from returning to the regular daily grind of the picket line, at least for a couple of days.

At a certain point it was down to just myself and one other guy -- and this is where the "best of times" aspect of today comes in: he was a 19 year-old aspiring director who drove down from Valencia to show his respect for the Writers Guild by joining the picket line.

The best part was he didn't ask me about how to get an agent or if I could get him a job, he just talked about movies he loved and why he loved them and the feature-length script he wrote last Summer and the book he was trying to adapt into a screenplay and how he wanted to get a chance to pitch an idea for an episode of "CHUCK," his favorite new TV show.

I suggested that his best bet on the "Chuck" front would be to write a spec episode, since virtually no one ever gets to pitch freelance episodes to showrunners.

He stuck around for more than an hour, then went to check out the main gate.

If he hadn't been there I would've been picketing all by my lonesome, which kind of sucks, so I was very happy he showed up.

The next time my partner and I get a show on the air, if that guy wants a PA gig, it's in the bag.

Of course, by that time he might be in the middle of directing his first feature.

Before he showed up there was some talk about the "growing frustration" of guild members, especially with the news blackout making it impossible to really know how things are going with the "informal talks."

I guess I understand this frustration. What I don't understand is using it as an excuse to evade doing what you are supposed to do -- to avoid walking the picket line.

Some people seem to think that since our negotiators are locked in a room with their counterparts from the other side, it will make no difference whether they themselves show up to walk back-and-forth or not. Following this line of thinking, what goes on in the negotiating room is in no way connected to what goes on out in front of the studios. Sure, maybe us picketing in healthy numbers for more than two months was what convinced the conglomerates to actually come back, sit down and reopen talks with us -- but now that we've reached that point, it's all up to the folks in that room.

I don't mean to offend you if this is your way of thinking but that is some of the stupidest shit I have ever heard.

If you don't think the companies are paying close attention to how many of us show up to picket, you are ill-informed or in denial.

If you don't think that knowledge is power, you are simply wrong.

Everything is connected.

The more of us who picket every day, the stronger the position our negotiators have inside that room.

If you are staying home to frantically finish up the assignment you were working on when the strike began... well, I guess I can't convince you to stop working and just picket but maybe I can convince you to spend half of your time out on the line and only the other half back at home, doing whatever else you feel compelled to do.

A woman on her way back into her office from lunch asked us to keep fighting the good fight and mentioned that most of the people she knows who work at the studio support the WGA's position in this strike. I know I say this strike is not a popularity contest and the only people whose opinions really matter are us -- the membership of the WGA. As long as we stick together it doesn't matter who loves us or hates us. Still, I wouldn't be honest if I didn't say hearing that makes me happy. It reminds me that I'm not crazy or suffering from tunnel-vision or drinking tainted koolaid.

All we're asking for is a fair deal. Nothing more. Nothing less.

If you don't think that's the case, then I guess you should stay home rather than come out and do your time on the picket line.

But if you do agree, don't sit home or sit at the coffee-shop or sit wherever else you've been sitting. Don't kid yourself into buying the line that showing up to picket doesn't matter one way or the other. It does matter. Out at Warner Bros. today, the security guards were counting us every hour on the hour, as usual.

The other side cares about how we feel and the only way for them to gauge that is to count how many of us are out on the picket lines. If the companies believe we are losing our heart, losing our commitment, losing our focus, they will adjust their behavior at the negotiating table accordingly.

Wouldn't you...?


Devon said...

Hey man, just wanted to express my gratitude for everything today and letting me join you!

Email me @

I hope to see you next week when I come back down!
Great Blog by the way!


Brooklyn scribe said...


I tried to e-mail you at the address you left but it wouldn't go through.

Double-check your e-mail address -- maybe it has a typo???