A Guest Perspective: Notes From the Picket Line

The writers strike is in full swing here in Los Angeles, with hordes of picketers outside every studio and network in town, fighting for rights of screenwriters across the country.  All over Hollywood, TV shows like The New Adventures of Old Christine, Back To You, ‘Til Death, and Rules of Engagement have been shut down.  I’ll continue to give you updates and different perspectives as the days– and probably weeks– go on, but you can get a great play-by-play at Nikki Finke’s Hollywood Deadline Daily.

In the mean time, Script Notes has a special treat today… our first exclusive guest perspective!

Comedy writer LESLEY WAKE WEBSTER has written on Kitchen Confidential, What I Like About You, and That 80’s Show. She’s currently a writer-producer on ABC’s Notes From the Underbelly, and she hit the picket lines Monday afternoon.  It’s a unique experience out on the frontlines, so Lesley took some time to tell Script Notes what it’s like in the heat of the strike…

By Lesley Wake Webster

Monday, November 5, 1 PM: I showed up at Warner Brothers Studios to join the WGA picket line.  Everywhere I looked, there were writers in red t-shirts holding signs of protest; it was an amazing display of solidarity.  As we marched and chanted, I had the privilege to talk to writers of incredibly diverse backgrounds.  I chatted with staff writers who’d just joined the guild, with showrunners who couldn’t stop worrying about their employees and with veterans who vividly remembered the 1988 strike.  From these conversations, one thing became crystal clear: we have good reason to be united.  Though the Writer’s Guild has over twelve thousand members, there are really only five people in the picket line, and you meet them over and over again. 

1.  The Class Clown
•  Picket line personality: Boisterous and friendly.  Dances, waves to passing cars and convinces everyone to go to El Torito for margaritas afterwards.
•  Most likely to have been kicked out of high school, dropped out of college or booed off a stage.
•  Became a writer after trying to make a living by acting, bartending and/or selling childhood toys on Ebay.
•  Can’t believe how much fun this is.  Striking is even less work than writing!

2.  The Good Girl
•  Picket line personality: Cheerful and polite.  Participates in chants, recycles everyone’s water bottles and makes sure that no one enters the crosswalk after the blinking orange hand appears.
•  Most likely to have been class valedictorian, editor of the yearbook or a member of “Up With People.”
•  Became a writer after receiving a Hello Kitty diary on her eighth birthday.  After years of secretly journaling, the Good Girl shocked her parents and herself by quitting a perfectly respectable job in public relations to write for TV and film.
•  Can’t believe she’s actually participating in a social protest.  Oh my!

3.  The Sullen Outsider
•  Picket line personality:  Aloof and slouchy.
•  Most likely to love Russian novels and have been forbidden to watch TV as a child.
•  Became a writer because it is the most important work in the world.
•  Can’t believe how shallow most TV shows and films are.  Perhaps this strike will clear out the dead wood and create a hunger for serious, important work like his two-hundred page screenplay, Death in the Time of Genocide.

4.  The Fat Guy with a Beard
•  Picket line personality:  jovial and determined.  For someone who spends most of his time sitting in front of a computer, he’s got surprising physical stamina.
•  Most likely to be insanely wealthy and have created your favorite movie or TV show.
•  Became a writer after a childhood spent indiscriminately watching TV.  Can quote entire episodes of The Twilight Zone and Gilligan’s Island.
•  Can’t believe that the AMPTP thinks it can break the WGA.   As surely as rock beats scissors, the fat guys with beards will beat the fat guys in suits.

5.  The Eager Beaver
•  Picket line personality:  Enthusiastic to a fault.  Wants to meet everyone else in the picket line and know what they’ve worked on.
•  Most likely to be a Dungeon Master and/or a virgin.
•  Became a writer because, unlike in P.E., no one tried to give him a wedgie in creative writing class.
•  Can’t believe he just saw Joss Whedon! 

Lesley Wake Webster is a Good Girl and a writer on Notes from the Underbelly.

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3 thoughts on “A Guest Perspective: Notes From the Picket Line

  1. Fun Joel

    Nice one! I guess I’m closest to the Class Clown, though I don’t fit in perfectly. You there are hybrids on line too?

    And speaking of hybrids, did you notice how nearly every single Prius that passes the line honks for us?

  2. Tia Robertson

    I really enjoyed the piece. I myself am a writer, a good girl with a more defiant story. I have never written for television, but I do believe that the stand the writer’s are taking is one for writer’s everywhere. Even in watching the picket lines on television, somehow I knew the fat guys with the beards were the real forces behind the fight.