It's the (almost) end of week 5 of the writers strike. I went to check out the mood on the line down at Paramount. The spirits were high in every sense. There was a whole lot more pot smoking going on than I anticipated. Actually, I was only aware of one blunt being lit up, but as I wasn't expecting anybody to be spliffing at 10 in the morning (least of all a certain prominent comedienne. She wasn't like that when I knew her), as I said, more pot smoking than I'd anticipated. Anyway, the chronic added a certain Sixties radicalism to the concentric circling that's otherwise missing from chants about digital media. Then somebody sprayed perfume in the air and I just felt like we were a bunch of kids who were afraid of being busted for beer breath by our 'rents.
It was, I was told, indie day down on the line. Theme days being the latest ploy to maintain interest in this increasingly questionable labor action (and I'm not saying I'm the one who finds it questionable. Apparently some showrunners have been taking siddowns with the guild leadership over the direction - or lack of direction - the strike has been taking.)
I'm not sure how indie day was different than any other day on the strike line, and I'm not sure the point of it either as most indie pictures - at least most that I've watched as a jurist for the Spirit awards and the AFI fest - are done blissfully outside of guild jurisdiction.
Unfortunately, I missed Diversity Day, which was held on Wednesday to spotlight minority writers. Although, the minority writers I talked to yesterday wondered why the hell the guild waited until there were no jobs to finally highlight diversity. I promise you, that's an issue I've had with the guild since they sucked the first $2,500 dollars out of me.
The highlight of the morning was a speech given by legendary writer Harlan Ellison who is both great and not the least bit self-indulgent. Nor is he much of a humorist, as demonstrate by his heckling of a black man who stood with us proselytizing. Harlan dropped into "black dialect" and started quoting from MLK's "I Have a Dream." None of the writers of color standing with me found this funny.
Clearly Harlan could have used some overtime on Diversity Day. Apparently, he made the Selma march back in '65 so he now feels he's earned his right to mock blacks. Then we fell into some chatter about liberal whites and Obama. Then some guy ordered us to stop talking and start walking. That was about the time we left and got lunch.
Prior to that Harlan gave a speech I couldn't hear both because of the crap sound system he was using and all the fidelity honking happening on Melrose. The point of the speech was to honor one of the writers who'd just flown in from NYC after disrupting a taping of the Carson Daly show. The guy was treated with all the deference of a soldier just returned from hunting OBL in Tora Bora.
A couple of writers I was standing with just shook their heads. One said: "They make Carson repeat the same question twice and they act like that's some kind of victory. No wonder we don't have a deal yet."
Well, you take what you can get.
Speaking of taking what you can get: I ran into a director friend of mine before heading to the line and he pretty much confirmed what everybody knows and I've been saying since the writers strike started: the DGA is going to make the deal that ends the writers strike. They have, however, given the WGA the "opportunity" to save face by getting something done by Jan 1st.
Bonus points for getting peace in the Middle East before the ball drops in Times Square.
With all the high priced "crisis consultants" (as the guild has dubbed them) the AMPTP has working for them I thought the AMPTP might make a PR splash by heading back to the table just before the holidays in at least a show of reconciliation over the writers strike. Would have been a brilliant move.
But, then, the WGA dropped the bomb and filed a suit against the AMPTP for some kind of unlawful practices. Failure to negotiate in the middle of the writers strike. Which is kinda like getting mad at a girl for not talking to you after you start dating her sister.
Anyway... I'm heading to Wisconsin for the holidays. I'm not sure what the picket opportunities are like there, but I'm sure everyone in Thiensville will be talking up the writers strike.
I'll give you a full report from there.
Read more strike coverage on the Huffington Post's writers' strike page.