November 09, 2007

Strike Bullet Points

  • For those of you who don't live in Los Angeles, the skyscraper that has its top three floors vaporized at the end of the movie "Die Hard" is, in fact, the corporate headquarters for 20th Century Fox. Can I say it was more than a little surreal to take part in some direct action on the doorstep of Nakatomi Plaza. It's an interesting neighborhood, Century City: the bohemeth talent agency, CAA, and MGM are all on the same street as Fox Plaza, within about two blockf of each other. HBO and Comedy Central are in the skyscrapers around the corner, and I believe Endeavor (another big talent agency) is around the other corner. At the end of the block is the Fox Studio lot.
  • So, I parked at a nearby mall and hoofed it the rest of the way - Showrunner sighting 1: Carlton Cuse, co-executive producer for "Lost", had the right idea and brought his bicycle, zipping past the rest of the pedestrian scribes.
  • They say that 3,000 guild members have been walking the lines in front of every studio around town, but, today, they asked them all to come to Fox as a show of force.
  • Who knew a strike could be so entertaining? Tom Morello & Zach De La Rocha from Rage Against The Machine showed up, pledged their support, and did a little impromtu show, including an acoustic version of "Bulls on Parade". That rocked!
  • I think that was Jonathan Gries just over my shoulder. Saw Larry David & Dennis Haysbert in the crowd. SAG is also making their presence felt today, although I overheard one writer say that, because former SAG president Melissa Gilbert negotiated an interim agreement with the studios during the last contract renewal, she pushed the SAG negotiation period ahead by 9 months - effectively cutting our negotiating power in half. Thanks, Melissa. No wonder she didn't get re-elected.
  • More treats - I'm about 20 feet from the main stage, and the next speaker is Jesse Jackson! Now, y'all can say what you want about Jesse - the man is still a hero and a legend, if, for nothing else, his work during the civil rights and black power movements. And, just like the Rage guys, he made the point that this is just another chapter in a larger story about workers rights in the face of increasing corporate consolidation.
  • I clearly need to put a new camera on my Christmas List :-)
  • Showrunner sighting 2: Seth MacFarlane takes the stage and risks litigation by giving us the Stewie voice to proclaim victory is nearly at hand.
  • Lots of helicopters overhead. The last time I remember being with this many people out in the open for some overtly political rally, I think, was the Million Man March back in 1995. Although, I had much less fear that SkyCopter 5 was really an Apache assault chopper in disguise today than I did back in front of the Capitol Building with Farrakhan. Less, but not none. But, as Cornel West said, being Black in America requires a baseline level of constant paranoia.
  • Which leads me to another point - I think this is the first time I've ever participated in some direct action where the majority of the people were white. As a recovering Howard Dean activist, it was just a bit..... odd. But in a good way.
  • Ran into my man Alex Endeshaw (P'96 for you tigers out there) ( for the first time in, maybe 13 years in the middle of the strike. Turns out we basically lived around the corner from each other up in Hollywood for 3 years and had no idea. Go figure. Check him out on "My Name Is Earl". Also caught up with Big Shawn ( in full WGA regalia. As a result, it sounds like CBS Radford is my next strike target.
  • Showrunner sighting 3 - noon approaches, the permits expire, and there's Battlestar Galactica's head honcho, Ronald D. Moore, chilling on the curb. I resist the urge to genuflect. :-)
  • Apparently, if the studios just rolled over and gave not just the WGA, but SAG and the DGA everything they're asking for, with no concessions, the additional amount of money they would have to pay to every single writer, actor, and director in all three guilds combined is still less than the salary of just ONE of their CEOs. A lot less. Like I said, it's greed.
  • So, the studios are clearly in the wrong, but, as is often the case, swallowing their pride to even admit that my coming back to the table is a bitter pill. If we're all about getting back to work, someone on the WGA's side should be looking for an olive branch that let's the studios save a bit of face to entice them to come back to the table. Because greed is often coupled with pride.