Idled Hollywood workers urge end to writers' strike

Sun Dec 9, 2007 4:12pm EST
 
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hundreds of film and television production workers, joined by florists, caterers and dry cleaners, marched through Hollywood on Sunday to urge both sides in the screenwriters strike to settle the 5-week-old stoppage that is crippling businesses linked to the industry.

The "Strike a Deal" march brought together about 500 people who are not on strike themselves but who have been laid off or are losing business because of the strike by about 10,500 members of the Writers Guild Of America (WGA).

"We're not here today to take the side of either party, but rather to make ourselves seen and make ourselves heard and call for both sides to return to the table immediately," said one of the organizers, Christopher Griffin, a line producer for the "Nip/Tuck" TV series.

Dozens of workers from shows where production has stopped including "Ugly Betty," "Desperate Housewives" and "The Office" were joined by representatives from floral, catering and cleaning small businesses that work closely with studios.

The rally and march was intended to "put a face on the thousands of us adversely affected by the current strike" and "to show a united front in calling for responsible and serious negotiations," the organizers said on their blog site.

Studio bosses and the WGA broke off contract talks again on Friday after four days of negotiations ended in acrimony, dashing hopes of a quick settlement of the worst Hollywood labor crisis in two decades.

The writers went on strike on November 5 in a dispute that hinges on how much they should be paid for work used on the Internet. It has halted production on dozens of TV shows as well as several movies and idled thousands of non-writing film and TV workers.

"They are negotiating the what-ifs while we're not even getting work, and while they're on strike the reruns are on and they're getting residuals," said Elizabeth Tompkins, a production controller for the summer 2008 movie "Get Smart."

Griffin called on both sides to try harder to reach an agreement. "Lock yourselves in a room, throw away the key. Stay there until a settlement is reached. All of our lives and our livelihoods hang in the balance," he said.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

 
<p>Writers Steve Tomlin (L) and Kathy McWorter walk a picket line along with members of the Writers Guild of America at one of the gates to Sony Studios in Culver City, California November 5, 2007. Hollywood screenwriters went on strike against major film and television studios on Monday, knocking some of America's favourite TV shows out of production in a dispute that hinges on how the Internet is changing the face of show business. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>