Yesterday, 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.
- 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. ↩
- 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. ↩