On Thursday a Hollywood mogul kept whining to me about the “blizzard” outside his luxury NYC hotel room. I should have reminded him about the striking writers walking the picket line that day in rain and sleet and hail and snow and temps of 30 degrees. I’m told it was “brutal” outside Viacom on Broadway in the heart of NYC’s Times Square. Yet the WGA East claimed the picket was the largest to date, 300 strikers. “They threw everything at us — plus locusts (roaches, actually, but they could have been locusts),” striking writer Lewis Friedman emailed me. “We disbanded before they could play the frogs and the old ‘first born’ gag on us. I suppose we should have expected the producers had that kind of power…”
As usual, members of WGAW, SAG and AFTRA joined the line. Also, it was Guild Day so more than 50 college and high school students (creative writing and film students) showed up. Some striking writers gave speeches to the students, others shared their experiences in smaller group chats. Then Viacom’s permalance employees protesting a company cut in their benefits walked off their jobs temporarily and onto the picket line.
Cast members of The Sopranos – Steven Schirripa, Arthur Nascarella, and Sharon Angela – were among the picketers; also Griffin Dunne, Zeljko Ivanek, Seth Meyers, Tony Gilroy, Liz Tucillo, Marcia Norman, Peter Hedges, Dramatics Guild president John Weidman, Tom Fontana, John Marcus, Rene Balcer, Warren Leight, Charlie Rubin, and, of course, the writing staffs from all the NYC-based late night shows – Saturday Night Live, The Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and The Colbert Report.