WGA Begins Strike Against TV, Film Producers

Monday was Day One of the TV and film writers' strike. KPCC's Brian Watt visited a Writers Guild picket line outside one Southland studio.

Brian Watt: Outside the Fox studio lot in Century City, Kimberly Mercado coordinated the picketers. She arrived at the entrance at Motor and Pico around 8 o'clock. Plenty of people showed up to join her by a few minutes before nine.

[Sound of passing vehicles honking]

Kimberly Mercado: We definitely had a lot more people than were expected. We were looking at definitely, easily over a hundred people in the morning. It seems there's more people in the afternoon. And we were out of – (honking horn drowns her out)

Watt: Mercado was trying to say, before another truck driver honked in solidarity, that organizers ran out of their red t-shirts and red and black signs early. They had to call back to strike headquarters for more.

Mercado, a writer for a new Fox TV show called "New Amsterdam," had just earned her Writer's Guild card. She hadn't been planning to stop working so soon.

Mercado: I'm the baby writer, what they call a staff writer who's just started. And you know I'm a middle class writer; I gotta pay my school loans, my bills, my rent. You know, so it definitely concerns me. But I'm more concerned about 10 years from now.

Watt: Producers say they're reluctant to set the new media residual rates writers want because the studios don't know how profitable those distribution platforms will be.

Veteran writer James Brooks joined the picket line outside Fox. He's the executive producer for Fox TV's "The Simpsons." He also wrote the screenplay for the film "Broadcast News," and numerous episodes of "Mary Tyler Moore" and "Taxi." Brooks said he's been thinking about how the strike will affect movies that are costing the studios tens of millions of dollars to make.

James Brooks: And now the script is locked and you can't get the new scene. And so often people go back and re-shoot last scenes once you know it. You can't respond to testing the way you'd like to. So it's not good for anybody. There's nobody having fun right now.

Watt: Fun or not, Brooks said he's planning to join the picket lines for a four-hour shift each day – as the Writer's Guild is asking all its members to do.

[Sound of passing vehicles honking]