Union members rally for writers

Celebrities, politicians join N.Y. event

A broad cross-section of union members and officials gathered Tuesday in Gotham’s Washington Square Park for a rally in support of striking writers.

Presidential candidate John Edwards made a brief appearance and fellow Democratic hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama sent letters backing the Writers Guild cause. In all, 16 speakers trouped to the podium, which was bracketed by stage lights and backed by a five-piece band that recalled a late-night TV talk show. In a large semi-circle a few feet away, TV news cameras rolled.

Speakers included boldface names like Tim Robbins, Danny Glover and Colin Quinn; politicians including Congressman Anthony Weiner and Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer; and execs from guilds repping teachers, service workers and many more.

The speeches generally followed two distinct tracks: call-and-response motivational fare from union leaders and pols, and sardonic one-liners and digs at Hollywood studio bosses from those in the biz.

“We’re in this together,” Edwards said. “It’s about making sure these media conglomerates don’t step on your rights.”

Quinn implored the producers to appease the picketers “so the Writers Guild can go back to doing what they do best: Sending three giant envelopes a week about their health coverage.”

Each speaker drew applause from the sign-waving crowd. The WGA had predicted a “massive” event drawing 1,000 or more to Washington Square, a longtime site of activism on the campus of New York U. The final tally fell well short of that, peaking at several hundred. Even so, it was the healthiest turnout in Gotham of the three-week-old strike.

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