Thursday, November 29, 2007

This Just In... A Big Bag o' Spin

So this evening's exciting new proposal from the AMPTP that had the local news anchors breathless breaking into their regular coverage?

Not so exciting.


Hey BATTLESTAR Fans: Support Writers and Go See Hockey With Chief Tyrol!

Share a pretzel, talk about Cylons (dating vs. being), swap tips on how to mount an insurgency against an occupying force of oppressive killer robots, cheer the Canucks.

Ron Moore's posted details at his blog on how to enter a cool raffle for sender-inners of Pencils2Moguls, with more to come.

Enter early, enter often!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Strike Notes: Week 2-3

Daily notes from 11/13 until Tofurkey Day.

All this week construction crews were working on the sidewalk right by what had been our base camp location, installing fiber optic cable for Warner Bros. We got got dust-filled air, earsplitting jackhammers (crew had earplugs, we did not), blocked-off roads making our van park farther away, and we had to keep relocating the base camp.

Tinfoil hat alert #1: Coincidence that this was going on during picket hours? I think not...

Tuesday - A smaller crowd at WB today due to Picketing With the Stars at Universal, which went shockingly underreported in both local and national media. Tinfoil hat alert #2: The same Big Media that we're striking against owns all those outlets, of course.

From Gate 4 we could see the CSI FANS SUPPORT THE WGA sky banner circling the festivities, although from our vantage point it read AGW EHT TROPPUS SNAF ISC.

Gate 4 is a well-kept secret of WB picketing. It's shady most of the day, which was important during that mini heat wave we had. But it's also quieter, and the executive gate, which means you have to work harder for honks, and you get a few more grumps who flip you off or give the thumbs-down than at Gate 2/3. Some guy yelled that we were holding up his production or something. To which I say, DUH. "Strike," people. Look it up.

More new chants:

Why are we emotional? Streaming's not promotional!
Why are we screaming? It's called free streaming!
Hey hey Bugs Bunny! Stealing money isn't funny!

And we also started just yelling out lines from movies, especially relevant ones like "We're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore!" and "Help! Help! I'm being repressed!"

Every day the WGA brings water and boxes of various snacks such as chips and energy bars, and often picketers will bring stuff as well like coffee or doughnuts, but it's been cool seeing what other parties have donated to the cause (and our waistlines) to show support.

Today's StrikeSnacks: Pizza from South Bay BMW.

Wednesday - The first of three days of the early shift this week, early meaning 6am-10am. Ye gods and little fishes, is 4:15am early if you're not used to it. I am not used to it. Traffic to Burbank is light but weirdly macho at that hour. Lots of trucks, big rigs and pickups, driven by the kind of guys who drive trucks at 5:30 in the morning, and in that manner. In my tiny car, I'm a little scared.

Was on Gate 9 today, which is the truck gate at WB, where arriving trucks get their permits to get onto the lot at Gate 7. There was no one on the gate when we got there (7 was covered), so we felt needed. A lot of smiles and waves from arriving Teamsters, but we didn't turn anyone around unless you count that one pickup who did a U-turn in the middle of the street. I think he was just lost. The employees at the gate were supernice to us, letting us use their bathroom.

StrikeSnacks: Granola bars and something else (flavored coffee creamers?) from SUPERNATURAL fans.

Thursday - Our first ugly encounter at WB. Guess we were due. A guy, a crew member of some kind, went off on us about how rich and selfish we are and how he "stands to lose everything at Christmas" thanks to the strike. He wasn't interested in listening to how all unions are in this fight together against Big Media, or that residuals pay into his health and pension fund, or the realities of how most writers live, or that the WGA has been ready to negotiate this whole time and the AMPTP is the side refusing to talk and causing the strike to continue. He just wanted to yell.

"I shit on your protest," he said, and we couldn't help noting that he chose a group of all women to rant at. Big man. But his anger and fear are real and valid, if misdirected at a bunch of girls in red t-shirts. Strikes are not fun things. This one is causing a lot of people real pain.

On the plus side, I met another bunch of cool writers. I learned how research was done for THE PRESTIGE, how BROTHERHOOD outlines episodes, and what the COLD CASE room is like. Reason #152 I probably should have an iPhone: to look people up on IMDB discreetly so I can maybe form an intelligent question beyond, "Wow, is it going to be this hot all week?"

StrikeSnacks: Didn't note any specific food treats, but brought a giant plastic tub filled with boxes of pain relief cream, stickered with a nice message ("WGA... hope the strike ends soon. Apply this for relief after being on the picket line. Thanks for the words."), as well as little bags of picket line essentials like sunscreen, Chapstick, and pocket packs of Kleenex. Very cool!

Friday - Peppier today than it's been, both on the line and in honks from passersby, perhaps due to it being Friday, or the presence of two of WB's best and most energetic cheerleaders, Yvette and BooM. Yay! Go team WB! The high point was the arrival of picketers costumed as three of WB's most famous faces, Tweety, Sylvester, and Bugs Bunny. Their signs were character appropriate: "Sufferin' share-the-cash!" and "What's up, doc? Corporate profits!" A walking photo op.

I've decided that smiling and waving will be my reaction to any and all feedback from the crowd, even some guy sitting in the back of a truck cab doing that scratch-his-cheek-while-flipping-the-bird thing. What are you, 12?

By the way, I'm interested at how varying the reactions have been from Teamsters. That guy was a Teamster, as are those guys who ignore us as they drive past, as are those guys who cross the line but smile and honk and flash the Victory sign, as is one amazingly cool guy who not only refused to cross the line but has been working on it all day everyday at WB, holding a picket sign when he's not driving the WGA supply van or un/loading stuff. All Teamsters.

Tonight there was a dinner at our showrunner's house, and it was fun to see everyone all in the same place again, for a change, and not sweaty and sun-enervated in our red shirts. In the middle of dinner, one person got the email that the WGA and AMPTP will return to the negotiating table on the 26th. Cheers and huzzahs!

* * *

Monday - Did the 6am shift again. I don't mind the early shift, but it's totally screwing up my body clock. Despite the good news from Friday, today was rather subdued, as befits a weirdly foggy morning.

StrikeSnacks: Cupcakes and cookies from Sugar Cup bakery

Tuesday - Big rally in Hollywood! Alicia Keys, zillions of writers and other union reps, another sky banner (WGA - ON THE SAME PAGE).

StrikeSnacks: Tasty mini-scones from CAA. I hear there was cider too, but I didn't see it.

* * *

Off from the picket line today. Used the time to catch up on errands, pay bills (my 5-year-old car is almost paid off! Hear that, Shit-on-your-protest guy? Yeah, we writers all bathe in Cristal.) , and work a bit on some new specs, a DEXTER and a new pilot idea.

Tomorrow through Sunday, The Boyfriend is whisking me away to Las Vegas for some R&R. Yep, he's a keeper. I will attempt to find something vegetarian to eat for Thanksgiving, we'll go see Spamalot and the Star Trek attractions at the Hilton, and drink at lunchtime. Hey, when in faux Rome (or faux Venice or faux Paris or faux Egypt...).

As a final note, America's Second Harvest is one of my favorite charities, especially this time of year. It's appalling how many people go hungry in our land of plenty. It's easy to donate online, if you have the inclination.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

We're Paid in Gold and Candy

From The Morning News, enjoy this Letter from Hollywood. What I find terrifying is the strong likelihood that the reality shows listed at the end are already in development.

That's right, AMPTP! Let's start talking again before you inflict BABY NATION and WHO WANTS TO EAT WHAT'S IN THIS BUCKET? on an innocent America.

Monday, November 12, 2007

You Can't Have It Both Ways, AMPTP

You can't cry uncertainty about the internet and then... well, just watch.

Strike Notes, Week 1 (and a smidge of Week 2)

Meant to post this weekend, but I was too frakkin' wiped out and in need of decompressing with The Boyfriend. Many, many blogs have posted insightful reports and perspective from the week, so expect nothing like that here. Cliff notes on the strike so far:

Monday - First day on the line! I show up with friend BooM at Warner Bros. Gate 2, hoist a picket sign, and get to it. I learn that hour 3 is about when you start to flag. Chanting of slogans, lots of general woo-hooing to the many many honks of support. My favorites slogan of the day is "Exterior! Street! Writers are striking!"

Tuesday - Some idiot in a Volvo speeds past, flipping off both sides of the street. It's easy to be an asshat at 30mph. I spend my post-picket time at home online, catching up with all the great coverage including United Hollywood's amazing video street team.

Wednesday - Today we got NOIZ-EE. Clacky hands, party horns, buckets-as-drums, surprisingly noisy small cowbell. I learn that if you have one of the latter, you will go approximately 6 minutes at a time without someone yelling "More cowbell!" from that SNL sketch.

Thursday - Today we got FED. A parade of generous food donations from all manner of supporters. Agents from Paradigm, mine and others, descended in their nice suits with trays of lattes in the p.m. for the shift change. Thanks, guys!

Got a huge boost when fans of MOONLIGHT arrived with pizzas, a great sign ("Vampire solidarity! Rah rah rah!") and welcome moral support. Very cool.

And, we learn that our assistants got laid off. Not very cool. But they've since joined us on the line. Very cool again.

Friday - Rally, with inspiring speakers I couldn't quite hear over the insufficient sound system and HUGE crowd, but which I caught up on via YouTube. You know, that crazy new internet thing.

I hafta say, between the blogs, YouTube, Cafe Press supporter swag, fan petitions, etc. etc. The AMPTP is getting PWNED online. It is fairly awesome.

A "ring girl" walks around the rally with a "Day 5" sign. Lots of great signs, actually. The one that read "Nick Counter hates puppies and babies" first read to me as "Nick Counter eats puppies and babies." Hell, for all we know, that's true.

More agency food love! Assistants from CAA circulated with churros, UTA's young turks made the rounds with energy bars, and the kids from WMA staffed not one but two bagel and coffee stations. Writers love carbs. There was also a Guaraki truck, and someone handing out water in bottles that looked like flasks. Or maybe it just looked like water...

Monday - New shift hours. I'm trying the O-dark-thirty shift W-F this week. May indulge my inner fangirl to visit the Barham gate of Universal tomorrow, where I believe the Battlestar Galactica peeps will be. A Vitaminwater truck came by to cheer us up at Gate 4 and left us some cold drinks. I have little calluses starting on my hands from my picket sign. I'm oddly proud of them.

A final thought for the AMPTP, courtesy of Spoon:

You got no time for the messenger,
got no regard for the thing that you don't understand,
you got no fear of the underdog,
that's why you will not survive.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

United Hollywood

Fab new blog, on the sidebar. Minty, refreshing fizz for all that AMPTP bullshit-induced dyspepsia.

WGA Strike LOLCat Theater #1

Starring Lassi, and courtesy of The Boyfriend.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Why We Fight

In case you haven't seen it, or don't yet grok what the WGA strike is all about, here's a helpful video:

Check out wgaamerica's page on YouTube for more, including video logs of the strike.

Sunday, November 04, 2007


While there are promising rumblings about the negotiations between the WGA and the AMPTP, the strike is still on. Unless word comes down otherwise, I will be joining many of my brother and sister writerfolk at Warner Bros. on the picket line, starting tomorrow morning.

The WGA meeting Thursday night was something else, and not just because I was thisclose to writers whose work inspired me to become a writer in the first place. There were about 3000 of us, and the amped-up vibe of solidarity was palpable. Also cool was the college-reunion feel to the thing, as writers who hadn't seen each other since previous projects had a chance to catch up. We really felt like a community that night, and I deeply hope that's the feeling that we'll carry into the days, weeks, years ahead, strike or no.

The energy at work on Friday? Odd. Half manic DEFCON-1 as we pushed hard to get work in under the wire, half gallows humor, bittersweet, that reminded me of nothing so much as when a company goes through layoffs, complete with farewell hugs and the carrying out of office personal items in boxes and bags.

My show, MOONLIGHT, is on the bubble and it's unclear what a protracted strike would mean for us. I'm worried that the show might get canceled once the shot episodes have all aired. I'm wondering if we'll all get fired off force majeure even if the show isn't canceled. I'm sad at possibly not working with those terrific writers, staff, cast, and crew again, all of whom would feel the effects of a strike. I don't know how hard it will be for me to get my next job when the dust settles. I don't know how hard it will be for my aspiring writer friends to get their first. I'm disappointed at letting down our fans, who love the show and are really upset at the thought of it going away, as they follow the strike news with as much interest as industry insiders. Oh, and I'd prefer not to burn through my savings.

But honestly, all those, while valid, are short-term and largely self-directed concerns and I recognize them as such.

The big picture is a fair agreement for all writers now and in the future.

So I'll be out in Burbank tomorrow in my sneaks, picketing. Can you come join us? You can, says the WGA.

Eyes on the prize. Stay strong.

*At work on Friday, we were joking about lolcat-style picket signs, should we be allowed to write our own. E.g. I CAN HAS FAIR AND REASONABLE CONTRACT? And REZIDUALZ - DO WANT. For the six people driving past who would understand? Hilarious.