From "The Office" to the Picket Line

The Writers Guild strike is in its second week. KPCC's Brian Watt struck up a conversation with a writer for NBC's "The Office," someone with a knack for timing.

Brian Watt: Since the main drama between the Writers' Guild and the studios involves the Internet, let's start Anthony Farrell's story there.

[Sound from YouTube video: Writers on picket line]

Watt: In this YouTube video, writers and actors on NBC's sitcom "The Office" picket to halt production of the show. The stars and the showrunner do a lot of the talking. Marching with the group behind them is one of the show's newest writers: Anthony Farrell. He joined the "Office" staff and the Guild only six months ago – a sweet first gig in television. With the strike, that gig is up for now.

Anthony Farrell: We knew when I got this job that this was coming. So we started saving and, luckily, the job I had before, which was in an "office," did not pay as well as the job I have now. So we were able to save more money than we normally did before.

Watt: That "we" includes his wife and their six-month-old daughter. In what office did Anthony Farrell work before "The Office"?

Farrell: I worked as an administrative assistant for Countrywide Home Loans.

Watt: The Calabasas-based mortgage giant that's hit some rough times in the sub-prime lending market. So, "out of the frying pan, into the fire," in a way?

Farrell: Yes. Pretty much. Because what happened was the department that I worked with, about, oh, 85% of my friends got laid off about two months ago. And I'm certain that I would have been one of those people who were laid off if I were still there. So, April, I had a baby. In May, I turned 30. And the day after that I got a job on "The Office."

Watt: At Countrywide, Farrell earned about $720 a week. "The Office" he's joined since paid him more than four times that, before taxes and before his agent and his manager get 10% each. With the strike on, Farrell said, his wife's income as a bank office manager will have to pay the rent on their two-bedroom apartment in North Hollywood.

Farrell: It's one of those things where you kinda have to go with the flow. We're fighting for the right things so... And we might take a hit for this, but I think we're gonna be okay.

Watt: To absorb that hit, Farrell said, his family's resisted the urge to move to a roomier apartment. If the strike continues until February, he said he'll take a temp job. Chances are pretty good it won't be at Countrywide.