I didn’t plan to blog much about the Hollywood writers’ strike. But I feel increasingly motivated to do so.
On behalf of my fellow scriptwriters, I want to thank every actor who joined us on the picket lines today. Particularly three familiar faces I marched alongside at Warner Bros. Studios: Anne-Marie Johnson, Anne De Salvo and Len Lesser. Thank you, guys!
They carried signs blazoned with the Screen Actors Guild logo and these words: “Unions Stand Together.”
Actors aren’t standing with us because they’re so damn grateful to read our magnificent poetry. They stand with us because their own contract with the studios will expire in six months. And the deal we make – to share in Hollywood’s new Internet revenue streams – will surely be the template for SAG’s next deal.
As of now, the studios and networks share with us none of their income from digitally downloaded TV shows and streaming episodes on the Web (for which they sell advertising).
Why do writers and actors deserve a little piece of that money? Because for nearly half a century, the industry practice has been to pay “residuals” for the re-use of our creative work.
An episode is repeated in prime time, the credited writer gets a nice residual check.
Episodes are rerun in syndication or on basic cable, and the writers get a little something-something.
When TV series are sold overseas, writers receive a (tiny) “foreign residual.”
And when episodes are packaged and sold on DVD, we get a (too-small) taste.
The future is online. We just want our fair share.
But power cedes nothing without a demand. And the bosses are willing to put everyone through the pain of a strike rather than sit down and hash out a decent deal.
They must think we’re weak.
They’ll find out.
Some interesting drama took place today a few blocks from the Warner Bros. lot. Veteran comedy writer Bill Prady, who’s running “Big Bang Theory,” stumbled upon a location shoot for “Desperate Housewives” on a residential side street. He contacted a Writers Guild strike captain, and pickets were dispatched to the location. I was among them.
As police officers stood by, we marched and chanted and raised a ruckus and totally disrupted the day’s shooting on “Desperate Housewives.”
When you’ve got comedy writers working a picket line, you’re bound to hear some clever chants. Here were some of today’s best:
“Eva! Longoria! Who’s gonna write your storia?”
“Marcia Cross, don’t cross the picket line! Marcia Cross, don’t cross the picket line!”
“Nicollette! Sheridan! We can’t think of one for you!”
And this one I’m still feeling:
“We’re finally getting some exercise! We’re finally getting some exercise!”
Even a couple of cops smiled at that one.