Rain means nothing to WGA picketers

“I’m out here because I want to be able to look the Teamsters in the eye,” said scribe Joseph Dougherty, one of more than 100 WGA members and supporters who braved the Friday-morning rain to participate in the Hollywood Homecoming rally outside Sony Pictures.

All picket activity today took place along the famed Greek-columned MGM edifice that spans more than a block of Washington Boulevard between Overland Blvd. and Madison Ave. (The guild intends to picket multiple locations Monday-Thursday, with Fridays reserved for events and rallies at a single site.) The setting proved fortunate: it offered a small, sheltered strip where determined, if slightly soggy, picketers could gather.

Many participants shared Dougherty’s sentiment: It was particularly important to show up in the rain, enduring discomfort, to underscore their resolve to fight for what they view is a fair deal.

Pickets were particularly fired up by news sent out Thursday night by guild leaders reporting that the WGA took a very dim view of the new economic proposal put on the negotiating table by the studios.

“Whether rain, snow, sleet or bad driving,” quipped screenwriter T. Jay O’Brien. As a feature scribe, O’Brien said he was particularly disheartened that the companies’ proposal included no residuals for web streaming of full-length features.

“That was very upsetting,” he said. “If anything, it was more energizing to us. It’s even more important to show them today that we mean it.”

Screenwriter Adam Farasati was also alarmed by the elements of the companies’ proposal.

“The studios have given no indication that they’re at the negotiating table than for any other reason than to appease the press,” he said. “But it’s not surprising. This just reinforces that we’re in it for the long haul.”

Despite the disdain for the majors’ moves on Thursday, most pickets said they were somewhat encouraged by the fact that the sides have agreed to resume talks on Tuesday.

“I’d rather have them snickering in a room at each other than not be in a room,” Dougherty said. “There’s still a way to get this solved.”

The theme of Friday’s rally was highlighting veteran WGA members and special guests included former WGA prexy Chris Knopf and several members of the famed Mankiewicz writing clan: Tom, Don and John.

Today’s strike supporters included a horde of sandwiches and other munchies from Whole Foods Market provided by WGA booster Lilly Lawrence, who we’re told recently suffered the loss of her home in the Malibu fire. WGA member Kathy McCormick procured a “Java the Truck” coffee stand that dispensed free coffee and tea to shivering participants. And the Kaplan Stahler Gumer Braun agency had reps on hand to pass out fresh fruit and “residual gelt,” aka chocolate coins.

–Cynthia Littleton

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