Determination and solidarity were common refrains Wednesday as the writers marked the grim 100-day milestone in their ongoing strike against Hollywood studios and streamers. Joined on the picket line by the equally conspicuous artists union, SAG-AFTRA, the caffeinated scribes celebrated the collective resolve of the two unions on the day that Writers Guild of America bargaining committee co-chair Chris Keyser called “an anniversary Shame on the AMPTP. ”
Eric Robbins (Star Trek: Discovery), the batch coordinator at Disney, said the atmosphere on Wednesday was positive, noting that the 100-day marker “rejuvenated and really encouraged” writers to return to picketing, which he said “had a lot of blood injected into the row”. After Friday’s meeting between the WGA and AMPTP gave no indication of when both sides would return to the negotiating table, he said the scribes have “as much passion and solidarity as we did on the 1st.”
Robbins was referring to Friday’s meeting between the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and Writers Guild executives to discuss whether there was a way back to restart negotiations. The WGA said in a subsequent member briefing that the AMPTP is offering the 11,000-member WGA the same deal the DGA ratified on issues of standards and increases in some writer-specific TV minimums. Scribes have since expressed frustration with the AMPTP’s unwillingness to address fundamental issues such as minimum newsroom sizes or success-based waste, among other issues. (The AMPTP has not commented on the meeting.)
Showrunner Damon Lindelof walked the wet picket line outside Disney in Burbank with Justin Britt-Gibson; both were recently fired from a Star Wars film they had been writing for Disney-owned Lucasfilm and shared that they both feel a new sense of determination. “Ninety-nine days of steps under my belt and I don’t know if there’s any end in sight, but I feel good and strong and convinced and united,” Lindelof said. Justin and I wrote a Star Wars movie together and protest Disney is much more fun than writing a Star Wars movie,” he said. Lost and watchmen creator. Britt-Gibson added: “This will not be in vain. This will be done so that we have a better future for the writers, for the actors, for everyone here on the line. … Strike back the Empire!”
Organizers from the writers guild and artists union SAG-AFTRA said turnout for Day 100 at Disney was higher than in recent days as the milestone drew people who had taken a breather amid high summer temperatures, many of whom enjoyed free churros and coffee on Wednesday. Near Warner Bros., a Louisiana-style jazz band played alongside the picketers, who also found respite through a massage chair between the rounded studio doors.
At the Radford Studio Center (formerly CBS Radford) in Studio City, music including Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” blared near the front entrance, where the WGA recently won the right to picket award after unions filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board.
Chris Kuna, writer for Star Trek: Lower DecksHe said he was committed to picketing for as long as it takes to get a fair deal and felt he could do “100 more days.” “They are waiting for us to show a break or some infighting, but if anything, it seems there is more and more determination,” he noted. “Spirits can lag, but every time they do something stupid, like the interview (with Disney CEO Bob) Iger or that fruitless meeting last Friday where it was clearly just a ploy, it doesn’t make us say, ‘ Okay, let’s settle.’ It makes us dig our heels in more. I don’t care if I ever go back to work; We’re going to get this fucking deal.”
Ethan Peck, the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds The star, who is the grandson of Hollywood royalty Gregory Peck, felt “angry” that writers and artists had to strike for fair treatment. “When I go out here, this anger falls on me. There is a lot of exploitation taking place, which is what we are here to combat, protest and reject. It really needs to change,” he said. “The income disparity is too great; it is so in most industries across the country. We are lucky to be able to organize like this and have unions that stand up for us and allow us to do this.”
Across the hill on Netflix, the picket began with chants of “100 more days! 100 days stronger!” as strikers made their way down Los Angeles’ bustling Sunset Boulevard. Compared to the early days of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strike, the Netflix line wasn’t nearly as busy, but the energy inspired by the 100-day marker helped buoy any discernible calm. Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money” blared from a speaker outside the streamer gate, and picketers walked in line with “100” painted on their faces as newly made signs read “100 days stronger.” A strike captain pointed his megaphone at the Netflix offices and proclaimed, “We can do this for 200 days.”
In Disney, Grey’s Anatomy star Camilla Luddington joined the writers of the ABC medical drama on the picket line Wednesday and expressed hope that both strikes, the first dual-union work stoppage in Hollywood since the 1960s, would end “sooner rather than later.” grey Writer Julie Wong pointed to recent earnings calls in which conglomerates including Warner Bros. Discovery and Paramount reported a surge in cash flow as spending on movies and scripted movies ground to a halt. “We know the money is there…and we know they can pay us; it’s just a matter of them deciding to give us a fair deal.”
Former Black Lightning star Cress Williams picketed Disney with his family and said reconnecting with old friends helped deflect the exhaustion. While the 160,000-member performers union has been on strike since July 14, many actors have shown support for writers since the WGA strike began in May. Williams, who said she voted against the latest SAG-AFTRA contract, felt this strike would be a long time coming. “This time it’s great to see our leaders address these issues,” she said. “These issues were forgotten about, or had been pushed under the table and we had made a lot of deals that I didn’t think were acceptable…so to see these issues finally being addressed is inspiring.”
Actor John Michael Huggins (Pitch perfect) said he felt “strange” picketing Disney, outside the buildings where he has regularly worked during his career, and felt it was his “duty” to participate in the strike. “It’s absolutely essential that we stay in tune with the people we work with, and that’s why I’m here,” he said. “The minute the stream came out we knew it was a waste of some sort, and we kept kicking the can down the road, and now the chickens have finally come home to roost. It’s been a long time behind the scenes and now we’re on stage, so let’s do it.”
The WGA last went on strike in 2007-08. The work stoppage lasted 100 days, and the union and the AMPTP resumed negotiations after 20 days or so. While members of the Directors Guild of America have ratified their contract with the AMPTP, many of that union’s bargaining points do not address issues that the WGA and SAG-AFTRA have labeled as central, including residues based on the success of the broadcast.
“This is not a fun time to be in the arts,” actor Jack Quaid (Oppenheimer, The Boys) said from the picket line at Warner Bros. in Burbank. “I’m here for the people who live paycheck to paycheck.”
Borys Kit and Mia Galuppo contributed to this reporting.