I know most of the studio toppers have a sense of humor. Yet picketers tell me that Universal still used police to turn away TV fans’ so-called “Pencils 2 Media Moguls” campaign on behalf of the striking writers on Tuesday. Over the past few weeks since the strike began, fans have been sending the CEOs of the six major entertainment conglomerates pencils to show support not just for the WGA’s Pencils Down campaign but also a quick deal for the writers of the shows they love. Thus far, over 500,000 pencils have been accumulated. Tuesday was the day the writers attempted to deliver them to the studio and network brass. NBC refused the first delivery. Disney also refused delivery. But when the the WGA truck rolled up with the 500,000 pencils to be delivered to Universal Gate #2, the studio apparently called the cops.
The picketers said 3 squad cars blocked the gates and the police threatened to arrest all for “trespassing” (including members of the public there for a special picket with the stars and creator of NBC’s Heroes). “And in case you think it wasn’t the studio who called them out, I clearly heard the lead officer say, ‘I speak for Universal,” one of the attendees told me. “You’re trespassing! Go back! Return to the street!” The WGA guys say “We have a delivery.” And then the cop says, “I am the official spokesperson for the studio and I’m telling you we don’t want what you are delivering.”
As one writer emailed me, “Wouldn’t it have been a better idea to accept the two laundry bins of pencils, send them to shipping, and donate them to charity (as the Guild will now do)? It just goes to show how, by default, these companies ‘deal’ with a hammer. And in the case of Universal, a fist.”