Writers' strike day three: Showrunners walk the picket line

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In an extraordinary show of power and solidarity, some 70-plus showrunners, from series as varied as CBS’ Numb3rs to Disney Channel’s Hannah Montana, walked the picket line Wednesday in front of the Disney lot in Burbank, CA. Virtually every primetime show was represented on the line by its exec producer. Among the showrunners marching alongside WGA West President Patric Verrone were Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse (Lost), Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy), John Wells (ER), Steve Levitan (Back to You), Ed Bernero (Criminal Minds, pictured with star Shemar Moore), Bill Lawrence (Scrubs), Kevin Falls (Journeyman), Greg Berlanti (Dirty Sexy Money, Brothers & Sisters), Seth MacFarland (Family Guy), Marc Cherry (Desperate Housewives), Greg Garcia (My Name is Earl), Joss Whedon (the upcoming Doll House), and Carol Mendelsohn (CSI).

"It’s very heartening to see everybody. It’s an extremely powerful group," said Levitan, whose freshman comedy Back to You went dark on Wednesday with only three completed episodes in the can. "There is not one person out here who doesn’t lose in a strike, and there is not one showrunner who is actually going to gain anything. We are all going to lose, no matter what happens. The minute we lose a week’s production, we lost and will never regain that. Past generations have made a sacrifice for us, and now it’s our turn to make a sacrifice for future generations."

Wells showed mixed emotions about walking the picket line.
Though he described the gathering as "old home week," because he was
running into so many familiar faces from his past, he was discouraged that the Guild is
striking over issues that are "relatively easy to resolve." He also
downplayed his involvement in the closed-door talks over the weekend
that ultimately fell apart late Sunday. "It was overblown," he said.
"What I did over the weekend at the request of the Guild was to make
some calls and try to get people together to talk. I was concerned and
the Guild leadership was concerned that there hadn’t really been
serious conversations taking place. Finally, there was some real
progress on Sunday, and some real talking going on. But these
conversations should have really happened months ago."

Not everybody on the picket line looked happy to be marching with their fellow showrunners. Chuck Lorre, who executive produces the top
rated sitcom Two and A Half Men and the freshman hopeful Big Bang Theory,
wore a long face and barely socialized with his fellow picketers (both
his shows were forced to shut down indefinitely). And Lorre’s mood only got worse;
within an hour, he would learn that a low-level executive at Warner
Bros. TV would attempt to complete the post-production episodes of Men and Theory that
are still in the can. "I want to go back to work," he told Hollywood Insider.
"Somebody call the president of show business and resolve this!"

Throughout the morning, several actors and celebrities joined the showrunners on the picket line, including Moore, Jay Leno, as well as Sally Field and a few other members of the Brothers & Sisters cast. This won’t be the last show of solidarity by the guild; Grey’s
Anatomy stars Katherine Heigl, TR Knight, and Sandra Oh are expected to
walk the picket line with the writers on Wednesday afternoon, and the entire,
3,000-plus WGA West membership is expected to converge on Paramount Studios on
Friday morning.

Meanwhile, rumors persist that several more studios will join
Paramount on Wednesday in suspending development deals for writers who are not
in production on shows.

Wells showed mixed emotions about walking the picket line.Though he described the gathering as "old home week," because he wasrunning into so many familiar faces from his past, he was discouraged that the Guild isstriking over issues that are "relatively easy to resolve." He alsodownplayed his involvement in the closed-door talks over the weekendthat ultimately fell apart late Sunday. "It was overblown," he said."What I did over the weekend at the request of the Guild was to makesome calls and try to get people together to talk. I was concerned andthe Guild leadership was concerned that there hadn’t really beenserious conversations taking place. Finally, there was some realprogress on Sunday, and some real talking going on. But theseconversations should have really happened months ago."

Not everybody on the picket line looked happy to be marching with their fellow showrunners. Chuck Lorre, who executive produces the toprated sitcom Two and A Half Men and the freshman hopeful Big Bang Theory,wore a long face and barely socialized with his fellow picketers (bothhis shows were forced to shut down indefinitely). And Lorre’s mood only got worse;within an hour, he would learn that a low-level executive at WarnerBros. TV would attempt to complete the post-production episodes of Men and Theory thatare still in the can. "I want to go back to work," he told Hollywood Insider."Somebody call the president of show business and resolve this!"

Throughout the morning, several actors and celebrities joined the showrunners on the picket line, including Moore, Jay Leno, as well as Sally Field and a few other members of the Brothers & Sisters cast. This won’t be the last show of solidarity by the guild; Grey’sAnatomy stars Katherine Heigl, TR Knight, and Sandra Oh are expected towalk the picket line with the writers on Wednesday afternoon, and the entire,3,000-plus WGA West membership is expected to converge on Paramount Studios onFriday morning.

Meanwhile, rumors persist that several more studios will joinParamount on Wednesday in suspending development deals for writers who are notin production on shows.

Comments (12 total) Add your comment
  • Kelley

    It would be wonderful if these grandiose gestures of dissatisfaction were accompanied by negotiations. Sadly, everyone involved seems to have their priorities mixed up.

  • SAGmember

    This is a great show of strength. So many shows are now run by writers-producers – so they have to stand behind their union. As horrible as this will be – it has to be done. And SAG will be next -our contract is up in 6 months. We also get nothing for internet viewings or DVDs. It is so out of whack and the studios are reaping millions. This strike is for all the middle class writers who need every penny to survive in this town – and for future writers.

  • Barbie

    I wish I was in LA to walk along the picket lines!

  • DRS

    While I completely support the writers and their right to strike, I have to agree with John Wells. The things that the writers are striking over are important, but it shouldn’t have gotten this far. It is my belief that the WGA wanted to flex their muscles and had been intending to strike all along. I find both sides to be kind of gross at this point. If this strike lasts very long, it will be a huge blow to the economy of Los Angeles and many other show-biz workers who are not a part of WGA, DGA or SAG. I just wish that calmer heads could prevail and an agreement could be hashed out quickly.

  • Angel

    It sucks that the people who keep our favorite shows going are having to do this. People need to stop being jerks and give the writers what they deserve.

  • Marvin Hernandez

    Great no Office

  • jessi ann

    I am so MADe that executives aren’t showing the creative talent the respect they deserve. One script that airs on TV turns into an online repeat and a DVD set, etc. I have been shocked to learn how ruthless the companies can be when it comes to not sharing profits on extra viewings of something someone wrote. I don’t know the ins and outs of show business but I understand that much. This country has been taken over by corporations. I am not a fan of corporations, I am a fan of comedy and tragedy and stories, and I want them back. I saw an actress from the movie Enchanted tell a reporter about her feelings on the strike and she made a good point: there are people who aren’t in the union who are suffering also — the dry cleaners, diner delivery guys, towncar drivers etc. who have to pay their rent & buy christmas presents somehow. It made me realize: It’s cruel of rich studio executives to do this to people’s income right before the holidays.

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