Live from New York: It's Day 1 of the strike

Many tourists were wondering what all the commotion was about at Rockefeller Center on Monday. Free cranberry juice from Ocean Spray? Nope. That was last week. Rather, the pandemonium came from a group of people whose credits many may recognize, but whose faces most quite possibly have never seen: screenwriters. That would explain the confusion of one tourist who wondered whether these writers were from Broadway. When he was told they weren’t, the man kept walking.

Still, many other gawkers stopped to take in the scene and even snap a few photos. By mid-afternoon, more than 200 writers, including 30 Rock‘s Tina Fey and SNL‘s Amy Poehler, had filtered through the picket line — which, at Rockefeller Center, was easy to find, because of the giant inflatable rat at its end. And it appears as if the rodent isn’t going anywhere any time soon: There’s no new information on when talks between the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers will resume.

But while a strike seems like a forced vacation for many writers, it isn’t tranquil one. In New York, strikers were picketing in the crisp 40-something-degree weather and chanting things like, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, management can’t write that show.” Even hyphenates like the husband and wife team of Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino (Gilmore Girls and The Return of Jezebel James) — people who you could imagine catching a little R&R on a tropical island — were supporting their fellow writers. Said Daniel Palladino, who was around for the last writers strike in 1988: “It’s really
important to show yourself on the street at these things. I haven’t heard about any writers planning any kind of vacations or taking time off or anything like that. When I struck in ’88, it was a lot of guys sacrificing for people like me. I was a very young kid.” Amy Sherman-Palladino added that this is about the writers who are living paycheck to paycheck. “Without unions, you’d have a bunch of 9-year-old Charles Dickens kids churning out Heroes scripts and working 24-hours a day for porridge. I’m seeing all of these numbers bandied about in the press, like every writer makes $200,000 a year — excuse me, that’s such crap. These are issues that affect so many generations of writers to come, [and] we just can’t f— around.”

Viewers will start seeing the repercussions tonight as the late-night talk shows will start airing reruns. Indefinitely. “We can’t stockpile our material like a sitcom because we can’t stockpile current events,” said Daily Show correspondent and writer John Oliver, who was also on the picket line. “Hence, we’re off.” Next to go dark will be Saturday Night Live, followed by soap operas. Courtney Simon, an Emmy-winning writer for As the World Turns, said that CBS is stocked with scripts until January. “But they eat up material very, very quickly,” she said. “So even though they have a lot in the can, it’ll only be a few more weeks before they need new things to shoot, unless they want to shut down their production schedule and wait.”

But while a strike seems like a forced vacation for many writers, it isn’t tranquil one. In New York, strikers were picketing in the crisp 40-something-degree weather and chanting things like, "Hey, hey, ho, ho, management can’t write that show." Even hyphenates like the husband and wife team of Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino (Gilmore Girls and The Return of Jezebel James) — people who you could imagine catching a little R&R on a tropical island — were supporting their fellow writers. Said Daniel Palladino, who was around for the last writers strike in 1988: "It’s reallyimportant to show yourself on the street at these things. I haven’t heard about any writers planning any kind of vacations or taking time off or anything like that. When I struck in ’88, it was a lot of guys sacrificing for people like me. I was a very young kid." Amy Sherman-Palladino added that this is about the writers who are living paycheck to paycheck. "Without unions, you’d have a bunch of 9-year-old Charles Dickens kids churning out Heroes scripts and working 24-hours a day for porridge. I’m seeing all of these numbers bandied about in the press, like every writer makes $200,000 a year — excuse me, that’s such crap. These are issues that affect so many generations of writers to come, [and] we just can’t f— around."

Viewers will start seeing the repercussions tonight as the late-night talk shows will start airing reruns. Indefinitely. "We can’t stockpile our material like a sitcom because we can’t stockpile current events," said Daily Show correspondent and writer John Oliver, who was also on the picket line. "Hence, we’re off." Next to go dark will be Saturday Night Live, followed by soap operas. Courtney Simon, an Emmy-winning writer for As the World Turns, said that CBS is stocked with scripts until January. "But they eat up material very, very quickly," she said. "So even though they have a lot in the can, it’ll only be a few more weeks before they need new things to shoot, unless they want to shut down their production schedule and wait."

Comments (3 total) Add your comment
  • Joe

    I totally support the writers – they get very little credit and pretty crappy wages considering they come up with all the snappy dialogue and plot twists (consider that Lost finale without them). I just hope that when people start seeing reruns they don’t blame the writers – the strike is important to ensure the writers get a share of those lucrative DVD revenues the studios have been hogging.

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