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The Writers Strike Back

The Writers Strike Back

In support of the Writer's Guild, I attended a really convenient rally.


The other day I took my morning neighborhood walk with about four thousand other people, protesting producers' attempts to eliminate writers' participation in the profits to be gained from new media located in places such as websites like the one you're reading from right now. As an actress with many friends who are in the Writers Guild of America, who depends on their words to create my characters, I've a large personal stake in whether us artists will be paid for commercials, webisodes, cell phone entertainments or anything else broadcast in ways we've not even imagined yet, such as inside our contact lenses or telepathically. I also have intense personal curiosity about what's going on in my neighborhood.

You see, my street in Los Angeles dead ends at the ornate, Western gate of 20th Century Fox Studios, so all I had to do was walk out my front door and I automatically joined larger and larger throngs of red shirts (wardrobed by the Writers Guild) emerging from adjacent homes and car pool parking lots, like part of an aerial shot of an old fashioned movie musical. Don't get me wrong -- I'm ideologically committed to the cause, but the bioregional proximity of this rally requiring no gas expenditure made it my kind of protest.

My first thought was that our industry's writers look strangely out of place outdoors. Their pasty white skins now exposed to sun and smog like the unstriking, weatherbeaten teamsters, the scribes sported their Guild pins and sports team caps to protect their tender punims from sun. Their carpal tunneled paws now gripped and brandished strike signs with clever slogans, the writing of which I was assured was not a violation of the strike codes.

But then I began to think more intensely about these friends of mine, these writers, and I realized how lucky the world of entertainment is to have them. Some argue that the writer is the most important person in the creative process. He or she is the only person who creates "ex nihilo" -- something out of nothing. As we used to say in my theatre days, "if it ain't on the page, it ain't on the stage," so actors, directors, and yes, even studios owe much to these talented folk. Writing has always been within the purview of talented, creative idealists. Maybe that's why there are so many Jewish staff writers on hit shows. After all, the Jews are the "People of the Book."

Maybe that's why there are so many Jewish writers. After all, the Jews are the "People of the Book."

During the course of the rally I saw long famous folks and newly minted celebrity faces being flexed for our recognition and praise, supporting the strike. And we saw friends we hadn't seen or spoken to in years putting petty differences aside with the common enemy of unemployment putting us in the moment. After a few hours of glad handing, back slapping, good conversations and making our points loudly and cleverly, we dispersed to our separate, worrisome futures, grim in our resolve to stay struck.

And struck is where we have stayed for awhile now, the end of the strike not yet in sight. They say that at the moment, public opinion is squarely behind the writers, but I am sure their stock will increase near unanimity when viewers start to notice an increase in new reality shows like "Who Wants to Marry a Fifth Grader," and "The Apprentice: Penitentiary Edition" where they look for the next up and coming prison warden. When that happens, the man on the street may come to appreciate what I have always known: writers are a brave and talented lot, deserving of our respect and admiration. I'm willing to go to a rally to support them any day, even if it's a bit outside my neighborhood.

December 15, 2007

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Visitor Comments: 5

(5) Alan Ira, December 23, 2007 12:13 PM

Divvying up the billion$!

Once again, we see an example of another multi-billion dollar industry that can't agree on divvying up its monstrous profits.
The viewing public is already bombarded with so much commercial advertising that it's often easy to lose the continuity of an episode containing four, six-minute commercial segments.
Lest we forget, however, the purpose of the media is to "sell soap." Take your artistic talent and try to pay your mortgage with it. You won't, unless you can sell your work. Remember, the producers want advertisers' money, because the advertisers want the viewers' money. Nobody gets rich if viewers don't support the advertisers.
The only true way to pressure the industry is to pressure the advertisers. Ultimately THEY (through YOU) are the voice that dictates what the producers do, including how they pay the writers.
Oh, yeah, just remember that more money for the writers (like me) means even more commercials stuck up your ass each hour to pay for more money for anyone!

(4) lola, December 21, 2007 12:15 AM

Won't support the writers until...

They actually start being creative again. Yesterday's writers were sharp, witty, educated on literature, hence movies such as Double Indemnity, Casablanca, Citizen Kane, The Thin Man movies. Todays are garbage and rewrite. Take this opportunity to read some classics and become educated literati. "Writers" is a good name for you, that's what you do. This viewer is tired of being brought to your level.

(3) Michael Wilton, December 18, 2007 9:45 PM

Stay in the fight because you are deserving.

After 43 years of welding and deadbeat contractors trying to skip out of paying. They take clients out in expensive SUV's and show them the work I did to sell more projects. A good workman is worthy of his hire.
I support the writers!

(2) Abraham Getzler, December 18, 2007 3:32 PM

So we're supposed to comment for free?

Should the commenters strike too?

(1) David S. Levine, December 18, 2007 11:08 AM

Who Cares?

Frankly, this conservative feels he has no dog in this fight. As someone usually sympathetic to management I remember that the Hollywood producers of today are the Democ-rat Party's largest contributors, along with their friends the tort lawyers. However the unions are also a source of Democ-rat Party cash and worse. therefore let this be a battle which destroys them both!

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