Loud chants rang out and hundreds of picketers spilled onto Fifth Avenue on Wednesday as Gotham’s WGA strikers held the most energetic rally of the 10-day-old strike.
A large, inflatable, cigar-chomping pig stood at the corner of Fifth and 55th Street outside the World of Disney store. Spanning the full block between 55th and 56th were barricades that edged out into Fifth once it was clear that the picketers would not be contained to the sidewalk.
The Writers Guild of America East estimated a total of 400 participants took part in the four-hour session, though the crowd peaked well below that level. While some notables, including David Hyde Piece, “Law and Order: SVU” exec producer Warren Leight and “Late Show with David Letterman” straight man Rupert of the Hello Deli stopped by, the takeaway was about the loud and mobilized group rather than boldface names.
“Hi-ho! Hi-ho! No work ’till we get dough!” went one of the chants. Drivers in passing taxis and trucks honked and waved. Passersby, especially the tourists who flock to the stores along Fifth Avenue, stopped and snapped photos, though many of them continued inside the Disney store, which continued to see decent foot traffic for a Wednesday.
“I’ve had a lot of pedestrians telling me, ‘Hey, good luck with this,'” said “Letterman” scribe Steve Young, a 17-year show vet who wasn’t yet a pro during the 1988 strike. “I don’t know if the approval of tourists is going to bring Les Moonves to his knees, but it makes us feel good.”
The East and West branches of the WGA are much more unified than in the past, Young said. “Had this strike happened two years ago, we would have been in much worse shape, but looking at how today turned out, it’s a pretty united front.”