As negotiations continue between the Writers Guild of America and the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the Transom caught up with one W.G.A. strike captain who’s been hitting the pavement every day for the past four weeks, save a few days off for Thanksgiving.
“I was delighted to finally have Jesse Jackson on my side,” said the captain, who writes for TV, of the reverend, who joined the picket line outside the Fox Plaza building on Nov. 10. “I figured that statistically the chances were good that one day we’d end up on the same side of things, and we did.”
“Everyone was so sort of grateful to have him there, but then sort of baffled at his references to Martin Luther King Jr. That made me feel a little tacky.”
The strike captain was also glad to suddenly find himself in the company of the Teamsters, presidential candidate John Edwards (“great hair!”) and the singer Alicia Keys, “whose music I was never that into, but now I adore.”
He reported that tons of food and beverages are piling up in the hallways at the W.G.A. building on Third and Fairfax, because the organization had gotten so many donations from people who want their products to appear on future television shows. “There’s too much of it, and it’s starting to clog the hallways,” the captain said. “My car is filled with it; it’s getting a little embarrassing.”
Another problem: People trying to steal the signs to keep as souvenirs. After the march down Hollywood Boulevard on Nov. 20, the strike captain, somewhat like a hall monitor, was busy collecting placards.
The writers’ hatred for talk-show host and strikebreaker Ellen DeGeneres is very real, he said. “I mean really vicious hatred and anger for her. She’s about as popular as Mel Gibson right now.”
The captain has begun to weary of the mostly male visages of his jean-and-hoodie–clad, occasionally hygiene-challenged comrades. “For every 30 ugly, pasty guys, there’s one attractive woman, who’s probably an actress,” he said despairingly. “Watching a writer try to pick up a girl is like watching a penguin in a footrace—it’s just a lot of flopping around, really pretty horrifying.”
He estimated that 95 percent of his colleagues were still totally committed to the strike, even though sometimes they like to joke around and chant, “Two, four, six, eight—let’s just cave.”
Somebody give this guy a raise!