Hollywood Blvd. rally: On the march

0 WGA West president Patric Verrone opened Tuesday’s Labor Solidarity rally on Hollywood Boulevard with a historical reference.

“Seventy five years ago, ten writers met at the Knickerbocker Hotel near here to form a union with teeth. We are here to show our teeth. What that means is that we’re here to walk down Hollywood Boulevard and smile.”

Verrone then introduced singer Alicia Keys, who performed to loud cheers from the back of a truck parked at the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Ivar Avenue.

After Keys performed two songs, several thousand participants began marching west on Hollywood Boulevard, led by a pair of Teamster trucks and a dozen LAPD officers on motorcycles and bicycles. March began at 1:40 p.m.

Verrone was front and center as the march started, walking next to a 20-foot “Solidarity with Writers” banner. In total, the crowd covered three blocks.

“On strike, shut it down, Hollywood’s a union town” was a popular chant among the marchers near the front of the crowd.

With drums and and tambourines provding rhythm, march had a festive feel. A white German shepherd named Yukon had a WGA picket sign attached to her side proclaiming: “We won’t be licked!”

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Several homeless people improvised signs, one reading: “Bums support Writers.”

Verrone launched the rally at 2:25 p.m. in front of the Chinese Theater by thanking the politicians for their support. He singled out Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards for walking the picket line last week, and he intro’d L.A. city councilman Eric Garcetti.

In all, the rally lasted about a half-hour, and will stand as WGA’s last strike-related demonstration until the guild’s talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers resume on Monday. Verrone and negotiating committee chair John Bowman didn’t talk specifics about next week’s talks in their comments to the crowd, but they criticized the majors in general terms.

–Dave McNary

Alicia Keys Photo by Michael Jones/Variety; crowd shot and pics below by Matthew Simmons/WireImage

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