This week’s picketing

Circumstances have left me a single dad this week, so it’s unlikely I’ll make it out to the picket line for more than a brief visit. (Toddlers enjoy signs and lines, but not for three hours at a stretch.)

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go. Go, and report back what you see.

Monday’s picketing is all centered at Fox, with SAG joining in solidarity. Any time you have actors on the picket line, the number of photographers increases exponentially, so it’s a good opportunity to get your face on the news — standing behind that guy from Desperate Housewives.1 Your mom will save it on the DVR for years, like my Mom did with the Broadcast Film Critics Awards, until the machine finally expired.

Can I just say I love SAG?

Throughout the strike, the media has had fun portraying a Good Cop/Bad Cop thing between the DGA and WGA. It’s not accurate at all, but here it goes: the DGA is reasonable and calm and polite (Good Cop), while the WGA is trashing the room and making threats (Bad Cop). The suspect (in this case, the AMPTP) would naturally prefer to deal with Good Cop, who professes to be on his side against the bully waiting out in the hall. “Just give me something I can use,” says Good Cop.

Extending this analogy, SAG is that wild-eyed guy you have locked up down the hall. Both Good Cop and Bad Cop are happy to point out that unless they can make some progress, the alternative is sharing a cell with That Guy. And he’s effing crazy. He’ll light his arm on fire.

For the record, I don’t think SAG is crazy or pyromaniac. I think they’re smart to point out that they have many of the same concerns about new media, along with other actor-specific issues. I suspect they’ll be out in force on Monday, not because they want to strike, but because they want to let everyone know they would and could.

Me? I’ll be explaining to a toddler why sofas aren’t for jumping, blocks aren’t for throwing, and blueberry pancakes aren’t the only food to eat.

  1. Just don’t do that two-finger antenna thing; James Denton could kick your ass.


chartIMDbPro’s MOVIEmeter charts how often people are looking for a specific film. This week, The Nines climbed from 1539 to 11 on the charts. Since we’re not the only DVD coming out this week, I have to assume that means a lot of people saw the torrent and wondered what the hell the movie was.


(Note that IMDbPro is subscription-based, unlike the free version.)

Strike, day 81

Despite the cold and rain, we had a sizable turnout at the Van Ness gate this morning, with four newcomers joining the stalwart crew. The Seattle folks brought coffee (purchased locally; they didn’t bring it with them), while feature scribes Amy and Liz enthusiastically pitched the plotline of Miracle Mile, an LA disaster movie they claim seriously smokes Volcano.

To me, it’s the lack of an urban core which seriously weakens LA’s viability for disaster movies. What is a giant monster supposed to attack? The Hollywood sign? A landmark made of white-painted wood isn’t particularly smash-worthy. If recollection serves, The Day After Tomorrow took it out with twisters, but that was hardly a key plot point.

No, the Cloverfield equivalent of LA would find the monster smashing the Santa Monica Pier, then walking 20 minutes to take out the Getty Center, and subsequently getting lost in the Valley while trying to find the Griffith Park observatory. Our most iconic feature is our vast freeway system, which doesn’t lend itself to cinematic destruction.

What LA needs is an ostentatious, provocative and destroyable landmark. Yes, it would be catnip for terrorists. But think of the movies.

Back at Paramount, we had more traffic than we’d seen in weeks, with many cars and trucks backed up. Completely not our doing — it was the security gate checking IDs. After the 10th truck with barking dogs in back, we started to realize that something other than Star Trek must be shooting on the lot. A friendly teamster gave us the answer: Hotel for Dogs.

Thursday is our Friday, so no picketing until Monday. Over the weekend, I’ll update with any special information.

Strike, day 80

Aspiring screenwriter and reader-of-the-blog Terry came out to walk the picket line this morning. A recent Notre Dame grad, he’s doing SAT1 tutoring as a day job. My friend Amy does the same thing in New York, and it strikes me as a nearly ideal way for a writer to put ramen in the cupboard. It’s decent enough that you won’t hate doing it, but not so rewarding that you’ll forget to write.

Beyond Terry’s visit, it was a completely unremarkable three hours. Angry Cadillac Woman scraped the curb as she raced through, but there was no one remotely in her vicinity. My new theory is that she’s actually just angry at the asphalt, and determined to do it damage through vehicular abuse.

WGA Board Member David Goodman stopped by to visit. No real news — there’s a press blackout. But it was announced yesterday that the WGA will not be picketing the Grammys, which is helpful for me, because I’m actually going this year.2 The last time was fun.

Other topics of conversation: Lucy Liu, India, the Smart car, casting, pilot cutbacks, how nice Notre Dame’s campus is, Malawi, and the “old people school bus” which comes at 8:10 every day.

Tomorrow, same time, same place.

  1. For international readers, the SAT is one of two standardized tests required to get into nearly any U.S. university. There’s a whole industry devoted to getting kids ready to take the test, which of course defeats the reason for the test in the first place.
  2. Longtime blog readers may remember that I became a Grammy member after getting nominated in 2005 for Best Song in the TV/Movie/Visual Media category.