paramount strikeYesterday, I took my first tour of duty as a picketeer, joining a crew of fellow writers (and allied SAG members) at the front gates of Paramount. Later in the afternoon, I was redeployed at Sunset Gower Studios, where they shoot Heroes. 1

Since most readers will probably (hopefully) never go on strike, I thought I’d share some observations.

  • You recognize a lot of people. I walked in circles with D.V. DeVincentis, Chris Brancato, Tim Kring, Jeph Loeb, Jesse Alexander, J.J. Philbin, Thomas Lennon, Ben Garant, recent guest authorship-opinionator Howard Rodman, Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal, along with special guest stars Kristin Bell and Dax Sheppard, who stopped by to chat.

  • Chanting has pros and cons, fans and haters. The Melrose Gate was very much into doing chants. Properly led, chants are fun and energizing. In the hands of a bad chant-leader, it’s a real drag, like forced karaoke. My afternoon shift included some chant-refugees, who fled overzealous, underinspiring chant hordes.2

  • Please honk. Really. A honk of support is surprisingly empowering, particularly if you can get a chain of cars to do it.

  • UPS is union. Several UPS drivers declined to cross our picket lines. I choose to believe those UPS drivers were carrying essential packages that deeply disrupted studio operations.

  • The signs are lighter than you’d think. When you first pick one up, you think, “How the hell am I supposed to carry this for four hours?” But it’s surprisingly not fatiguing.

  • I can advise while walking. I spent half an hour on the line answering questions from a young comedy writer who was going though the development process at Warner Bros. I’m happy to do it for blog-readers, by the way, if you care to join me at Paramount. I’ll be picketing afternoons there all this week.

  • Anyone can do it. WGA members need to sign in when they get there, but anyone interested can pick up a picket and start marching. If you fall into the “aspiring screenwriter” demographic, it’s a good way to get to know some working writers…while they’re not working. If you’re an aspiring actor, well, there are a lot of showrunners hitting the pavement.

On top of all the strike fun, I’m dealing with a sick toddler and some site-hackery, so apologies in advance for slow updates. It sometimes feels like I’m going in circles.

Oh, that’s right. I am.

  1. The journey from Paramount to Sunset Gower was about a 20 minute walk through parts of Hollywood I’d never seen on foot. It made me appreciate why disability-rights advocates get so frustrated with the sidewalks in Los Angeles. In many cases, they’re way too narrow, with a giant electrical pole right in the middle.
  2. A good chant is simple. Often, the witty ones don’t really work, because they lose their comedy after the third repetition, and are then merely stupid.