Writers strike: Clenched fists, clear eyes after week one

WgarallysignsThe word that comes to mind to describe the mood among the scribes on the picket lines during the past week is: resolute.

Over and over, the attitude expressed on the lines was one of calm, cool determination to stick it out for a “fair deal.” Despite the early predictions that the Writers Guild of America membership would be split along income-strata lines, there is no doubt that writers of all stripes, of all levels of experience and success are fired up by the feeling that the major congloms have been hosing them for years.

The WGA leadership has expertly built on that foundation of pent-up ire to help scribes gird for the strike that many rightly predicted was inevitable. On Friday (Nov. 9) at the mega-rally of at least 4,000 guild members and industry supporters held outside the Fox Plaza building in Century City, guild leaders and guest speakers including the Rev. Jesse Jackson very clearly drew a line between the WGA strike — disparaged by some as a rich union’s attempt to paint itself as blue-collar — and the growing income disparity that has cleaved the nation into the super-haves, the haven’t enoughs, the have-nots and the have nothings during the past 40 years.

“If they gave us everything that we’re asking for, and then they went and did the same deal with the DGA and SAG, they would still be giving all of us less than each of their CEOs makes in a year,” WGA West prexy Patric Verrone asserted to a receptive crowd on Friday.

(Can’t absolutely vouch for Verrone’s math, but we’ve all seen the studies on CEO pay gone wild and the widening gulf between the salaries of top execs and lowest-paid workers at many corporations.)  A picket sign in the crowd featured an unflattering picture of News Corp. prexy Peter Chernin, with “$34 million last year” scrawled underneath.

Seth MacFarlane, a wunderkind who scored his first multimillion payday before he was 30 with a hit animated Fox series “Family Guy,” was a savvy choice by the guild to address the rally. His is a voice representing both the future of the guild and the promise that the biz holds to make (very lucky) people fabulously wealthy on the strength of a great idea. MacFarlane (pictured below) made a point of urging his fellow high-earners to keep paying their freshly laid off assistants for as long as possible. And he urged “the press” to get the message out to the general public that WGA members are, in the main, members of the five-figure annual income middle class, not the six-, seven-, eight-figure and above ultra-elite.

“Writers in this guild are not millionaires,” MacFarlane stressed. “The royalties we’re fighting for will make a big difference to them.”

(Above pic snapped by Michelle Sobrino-Stearns/Variety)

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  1. American Viewing Public Repsonds (again) says:

    User/viewer created content is here and now. Why should anyone pay a union writer anything anymore? The viewers don’t care about the runners or writers. You’re not going to get anything out of this strike except unemployment. The media executives and board members are laughing at this strike. You walked yourselves right out of a job. It is ironic that your big picture is not the big picture. User & viewer created content is here and now. You’re like a fish trying to contemplate fire. You’re obsolete and refuse to reinvent yourselves. Your time is over. Retool and get a new career. Everything will be fine because you’re all smart and savvy, right? Smarter than the American Viewing Public? Hardly.

  2. tony says:

    Without the writers you have nothing. I for one support their right to strike and vow to stop watching scab who cross the lines (thats right Ellen, you!)

  3. jkg says:

    Yeah, you don’t speak for me smartass. I’m not there for the TELEVISION, you idiot, I’m there for the STORIES, written by, you know…THE WRITERS.

  4. Melody Watson says:

    I care. As an aspiring writer and an avid fan of television and movies, I can say with complete certainty, the writers strike will effect everyone. Your comment of this strike being the “end of television” is ridiculous. While I might enjoy some of the random works that youtube has to offer, nothing compares to the Daily Show, or the Office, or Lost, or Heros, etc. You are a fool if you think that Americans will not notice the loss of their favorite shows.

  5. American Viewing Audience Responds says:

    The American viewing audience doesn’t care about your strike. Television as a form of entertainment if over. We don’t have respect for your cause or concerns. Don’t expect us to care. Our 21st Century Information Society has the attention span of a squirrel. We shall simply turn-off the television, move on to something actually interesting, and never return. Mark my words: Your choice to go on strike will be the beginning of the end of television as a form of entertainment in America. Viewership numbers will never return to their pre-strike numbers. The strikers are wagering that media corporations will bow to them when the episode well runs dry. When a skateboarding dog captures more interest than the highest rated union written television show in history, your industry is done. Viewer created content is the immediate future. Your strike serves as the opportunity for the audience to turn our backs on you forever. We won’t miss you. We have already forgotten about you and moved on.

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