Monthly Archives: November 2007

Associated Press Pic

Just did a Google news search for Mr. Ric Francis — the Associated Press photographer who was shooting our Carson Daly Taskforce in action today — and found this lovely picture.

Not a great angle for anyone, but I guess I should be happy that some of us made the final cut at all. So, enjoy!

AP photographer Ric Francis’ pic of the Carson Daly Taskforce! (Nov. 29, 2007)

Anyway, there is a pretty cool accompanying story about the breakdown of AMPTP/WGA talks earlier this evening (down with rollbacks!) and the events of the day at NBC. It was co-written by a super cool AP contributing writer that tagged along with us all day today.

She was even there plugging her ears at our after-hours “action” as well, so this chick takes the term embedded seriously. Kudos to you, Raquel Maria Dillon!

Check out the complete story at:


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Breaking Carson Daly…

OK, so, on my way home from a long day of Daly-watching, I got word that a group of hard-core stikers was going to meet at 6:30pm to make some noise in an area just beyond the outdoor stage where Carson Daly tapes his musical acts.

Politely termed an “action”, our goal was to make as much noise as possible in the hopes of disrupting the taping of the live concert portion of Carson’s show on the other side of the wall.

More Carson Daly picket signs @ the WGA “action” on NBC Burbank (Nov. 29, 2007)

Even though we had a screening scheduled, Christine and I ditched the movie, donned our WGA finery (actually, I was still donning mine) and headed out to the picket line. All I can say is wow, they weren’t kidding when they said they wanted to make some noise…this thing was insane!

Louder, rowdier, and filthier (some of the strike captains actually swore at Carson on the megaphones!) than anything I’ve seen on the picket lines to date, everything about this after-hours “action” was downright thrilling. This is what down and dirty picket lines are all about, amigos!

We were so loud that my ears are still ringing, and trust me, our Carson Daly catcalls earlier in the day couldn’t hold a candle to the “spirited” R-rated chants we hurled his way tonight. My two favorite one word chants were: “Scab!” repeated like, a hundred times, and “Hack!” repeated a hundred more. Suffice to say, it was pretty bruising out there.

Carson Daly picket signs @ the after-hours “action”, NBC Burbank (Nov. 29, 2007)

It got so wild at one point, that this Mike Tyson doppelgänger (who I kind of doubt was even a WGA member) asked me to help hoist him over the wall so he could: “Rip Carson Daly in half!” And lemme tell ya, this dude was NOT kidding!

Christine (wisely) advised me not to help the gentleman over the wall. And it was a good thing too as the Burbank PD showed up a few seconds later to ask us to move back a bit. We did as we were told and armed with musical instruments (airhorns, drums, maracas, tambourines, even a bugle!), megaphones and passion, we burned that place to the ground. Um…figuratively, of course.

And though we didn’t stop the show — the band Soldier Boy was the musical guest, and they kept right on singing and dancing despite the melee nearby — we definitely put a kink in it’s production schedule. And in the end, it’s costly financial delays like that that will help get the AMPTP’s attention.

If making money is all they’re concerned with, then we’ll start costing them some more right away… one rattly maraca at a time! Go, union!


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The Carson Daly Taskforce!

I guess I should remove the word “considering” from my last post, as Mr. Last Call himself, Carson Daly crossed the picket lines at NBC today to tape his cheesy late-night show. I know to be true, because today I had the privilege of being one of the many WGA strikers put on Carson Daly Watch for the day.

Carson Daly Watch @ NBC Gate #7 (Nov. 29, 2007)

We knew he was due to arrive sometime just before 3:00pm and manned our many NBC gates accordingly. Every major entrance to the studio was lined with people raring to go with their Carson Daly-specific picket signs. Hell, we even knew the make and model of his car — a black Cadillac Escalade with a bike rack — so if he came by, we’d spot him for sure.

And spot him we did! Like clockwork, the Scabmaster rounded the corner towards the usually slow Gate #7 on California St. with his shiny bike rack in tow.

The Carson Daly Taskforce in action! (Nov. 29, 2007)

But rather than stop, the brave Mr. Daly sped up. Our chants and taunts ringing out in his ears — his windows were down, so I know he heard us — Carson tore off down the street towards another gate.

Grabbing his cell, our Gate Captain, a feature writer named Irving (pictured in the far left in the shot below) called the other gates to alert them. And quicker than you can say, checkmate, Carson Daly was blocked from entering every single gate at NBC Burbank. Yeah!

The Carson Daly Taskforce cheers their victory! (Nov. 29, 2007)

Of course, he could have driven past us if he wanted too, but I honestly think he was too scared to even try. So instead of manning up and charging past us — I mean, come on, the only thing worse than a scab is a wimpy scab! — Carson circled the NBC lot in his Escalade for a whopping 20 minutes, probably pissing himself the whole time. Ha!

And then, after finally running out of options, Carson contacted someone on the inside and they opened the rarely-used, chained-off Gate #3 on Alameda (pictured below in the pic with fellow picketers Nina and Wan) so bike rack boy could sneak onto the lot!

Wan & Nina (aka The Slackmistress) outside the notorious Gate #3 (Nov. 29, 2007)

Wow…all that drama just to get to work. Hardly seems worth it, Carson. And with the crack team at the Carson Daly Taskforce on your ass every day from here on out, maybe you should reconsider coming back at all. Because now that we know you favor Gate #3, trust me, dude…we’ll be back!

Go, taskforce! If you’re interested in hearing another Taskforce members take on the day’s events, check out my bud Nina’s video blog at: YouTube


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Carson Daly: Scabmaster

Wow, I thought that old scab Ellen Degeneres was bad…but even she didn’t sink as low as the scab-tastic Mr. Carson Daly did this week.

Rumored to be returning to his late night talk show — yep, believe it or not, that totally unfunny dude from “TRL” still has a show — for the first time since the strike began, Daly recently dashed off an email to his family and friends asking them for help coming up with material since his writers remain out on strike. He even went so to set up a “suggested joke” hotline where they could phone in jokes for him to possibly use on the air. And no, I’m not kidding. He really did this!

Me & the Hooters girls celebrating guild unity in Hollywood (Nov. 20, 2007)

So, I guess Carson Daly’s not just cheesy and untalented, but he’s also the tackiest scab in town. Nice work, dude.

In honor of Mr. Daly’s desperate and totally tasteless plea for jokes, I’m posting a pic of me posing with the staff at the “delightfully tacky, yet unrefined” (I never understood that slogan) Hooters on Hollywood Blvd. following last weeks Solidarity march and rally. Carson Daly might be scabbing out, but as you can see, these Hooters girls are all union!

To read Mr. Daly’s scab hunt e-mail in it’s entirety, check out: I’d ask you to boycott “Last Call With Carson Daly” when it starts airing again, but really, has anyone ever even watched that thing? The last time I did, former “Fear Factor” host Joe Rogan was the only guest for the entire show. Joe Rogan?!

Yikes…’nuff said.


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“Speechless Hollywood”

OK, I should totally be sleeping right now as I have another long day on the picket lines ahead of me, but I just discovered these super cool videos that have been floating around town all weekend and wanted to post a couple of them here.

Entitled “Speechless”, the clips are the brainchild of two prominent WGA members, writer/director George Hickenlooper and screenwriter Alan Serebof, and were designed to serve as a series of online Public Service Announcements featuring A-list actors voicing (or not voicing as the case may be) their support for the ongoing WGA strike.

Though some of the clips are a bit “actorly” at times, some of them are really quite cool. And the idea behind them is awesome. Who better to get the message out there than actors? Rock on, George and Alan, you guys rule!

Airing exclusively at (which also has some killer up-to-the-minute updates on the strike by LAWeekly’s Nicky Finke) until Sunday night, the clips recently began appearing on YouTube and a number of other video sharing sites out there.

Hickenlooper and Serebof plan to continue the series with one (or more!) new clips posted every day that the strike continues, and the talent they have lined up is pretty impressive — Woody Allen, Ethan Hawke, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Jane Fonda, to name a few — so future “episodes” could be pretty damn cool!

To see more of the existing clips and keep tabs on the new ones as they are posted, check out the “Speechless” blog at:


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Strike Turkey!

Christine and I got back into town very late Sunday night after the long drive home from Santa Cruz and man alive are we tired. Had an awesome weekend with family and friends, but, wow, what a crazy drive home.

We actually came to a dead stop on Highway 5 three times. It was like rush hour on the 405 but with no surface streets to turn off onto. Total insanity!

Our WGA picket sign Thanksgiving Day centerpiece in Santa Cruz (Nov. 22, 2007)

Anyway, I promise to post an entry soon about the totally amazing Solidarity With Writers march and rally that took place last week in Hollywood, but for now, wanted to get these cool Thanksgiving pics online.

As you can see, Christine and I brought one of our many WGA “We Support The Writers Guild of America” mini posters up to my Dad and Wendy’s house.

Christine rocking a WGA poster and a turkey wing on Thanksgiving day in Santa Cruz (Nov. 22, 2007)

Wendy & Christine showing their support with our WGA strike turkey in Santa Cruz (Nov. 22, 2007)

Aside from displaying it prominently in the rear window of our rocking Saturn Ion on the drive up, we also posed for many goofy pictures with it and even incorporated that shiny red and black sign into the lovely floral centerpiece on our Thanksgiving table.

We didn’t plan any of this ahead of time (honestly!) but I actually think the sign matches those WGA-red gerbera daisies quite nicely.

Dad and I carving up our strike turkey in Santa Cruz (Nov. 22, 2007)

That’s my Dad and I in the crazy picture with the knife, and my Stepmom Wendy sharing a turkey wing with Christine, but I think my favorite pic of all is the one with our longtime family friend Les holding the sign (below).

I didn’t even have to ask Les to pose, he just grabbed that sign and went with it!

Les showing his support for the WGA on Thanksgiving Weekend in Santa Cruz (Nov. 22, 2007)

Happy belated Thanksgiving to everyone, and I hope your turkey tasted as good as the righteous strike bird we stuffed down our gullets all weekend.

I dunno…maybe I’m just being optimistic about the renewal of contract talks this week between the AMPTP and our WGA leaders, but hand to God, that winged beauty tasted like victory! Que viva la union!


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Solidarity With Writers March

This afternoon, as we end week three of our ongoing strike against the AMPTP, the WGA is staging a gigantic Solidarity With Writers march and rally in the heart of downtown Hollywood.

We expect upwards of 10,000 people from every union in town (including nurses, teamsters, musicians, actors, you name it) to join us in marching down Hollywood Blvd. in an historic show of union solidarity.

Labor Solidarity With Writers March on Hollywood poster! (Nov. 20, 2007)

It should be really cool and anyone who is interested in attending should totally swing by. Members of the Los Angeles City Council, SAG, the Teamsters, and the WGA negotiating committee will be joined by Golden Globe award-winning actress Sandra Oh (“Grey’s Anatomy”) during the march.

But most exciting of all is the prospect of a possible mini-concert by Grammy-winning singer, the freakishly beautiful Alicia Keys, who is tentatively scheduled to appear at 1:15pm. Yeah! I can finally see for myself if she’s an alien or not! I’m betting she’s human, but you never know…

Either way, it should be a memorable day, so if you’re around, grab a red shirt and join us! For further details, check out:


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“Big Martha” Kostyra (1914-2007)

This weekend, Christine and I were very sad to hear of the passing of Martha Stewart’s super cool, Polish-American mother, Martha Kostyra (aka “Big” Martha) at the age of 93.

Anyone who’s read “Little Martha’s” magazines or watched her many TV shows over the years — and lord knows we have, Christine Tivo’s and watches Martha’s daily show…daily! — knows what a huge impact her sweet, craft-tastic mother had on making Martha Stewart who she is today.

“Big Martha” Kostyra (1914-2007) on the beach in 1941!

Whether she was helping her daughter make Borscht, offering sewing tips, or just sitting in the audience watching the show, “Big Martha” was a huge presence in the Martha Stewart universe — even showing up in the courtroom every day when “Little Martha” was on trial a couple years back! So cool!

But I think our favorite thing about “Big Martha” was her wry sense of humor and her totally deadpan delivery. Watching her and “Little Martha” working together in the kitchen — especially when they weren’t seeing eye to eye on something — was always a highlight of the show. Seriously, it was like watching me and my mom cook enchiladas on Christmas day…tense, funny and messy as hell, but in the end, totally awesome…and delicious to boot.

Our thoughts go out to Martha and Alexis Stewart and the entire Kostyra family during this difficult time. To coin a phrase from the vernacular of her time, “Big Martha” was truly the bees knees! She will be missed…

In honor of “Big Martha’s” passing, we wanted to post this sweet video tribute that appeared on “Martha” a while back. Enjoy!

If you’re interested in reading more about the life of “Big Martha” Kostyra, you can find some of her signature recipes, fan tributes, and even a brief letter from “Little Martha” herself at:


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John Edwards walks the line!

Taking time out from his busy campaign schedule, Democratic Presidential hopeful, former North Carolina Senator John Edwards “put his money where his mouth is” when he walked the NBC picket lines with upwards of 1,200 striking WGA writers on Friday.

Democratic Presidential hopeful, former North Carolina Senator, John Edwards on the NBC picket lines (Nov. 16, 2007)

Hooray! Finally a strike story that our local news can’t bury beneath endless OJ trial coverage! Seriously, my “star-making” turn on the Fox News aside, the networks down here have been totally burying accurate and timely coverage of the strike. Guess it doesn’t look too good to cut to live shots from the picket lines when they’re right outside your own front gate.

On Wednesday, ABC news actually said that the KT Tunstall mini-concert happened at NBC, which is either a huge blunder by their fact checkers or a straight-up lie. I’m going with straight-up lie as the event was staged within walking distance (if not earshot) of their news desk. Shame on you, ABC!

John Edwards flashing that JFK smile to the press @ NBC (Nov. 16, 2007)

Anyway, back to our future Prez, John Edwards. Glowing like a Kennedy-in-waiting, John Edwards wowed the crowd from the get-go as he climbed up onto a planter box and addressed the striking masses. Grabbing the bullhorn, Edwards shouted: “I’m so proud to be with you in this fight for justice. And I’ll be with you every day when I’m President of the United States.” Rock on, Carolina!

John Edwards walking the picket line w/striking WGA members @ NBC Burbank (Nov. 16, 2007)

“Unions organizing all working people is the only way we will ensure that conglomerates don’t take over America.” He continued, to roars of approval from the crowd as the press swarmed around him (see below).

“The striking Writers Guild members are fighting an important battle to protect their creative rights. These writers deserve to be compensated fairly for their work and I commend their courage in standing up to big media conglomerates.” Whoo-hoo! You can say that again, tarheel!

The press swarming around John Edwards as he arrives @ the picket lines (Nov. 16, 2007)

Wan (who, like Edwards, is from Chapel Hill, NC) and I were just a few folks away from Edwards when he spoke, and though we didn’t get to shake his hand (which was our nerd-tastic goal going into the day!) we did manage to get some halfway decent pics despite the crowd, so, yeah!

Christine and I have been huge fans of Edwards’ every since his ill-fated run for the White House in ’04, but now, expensive haircuts or not, we love the dude even more.

John Edwards charms the crowd on the WGA picket lines @ NBC Burbank (Nov. 16, 2007)

Not sure what kind of real chance he has of making it past Iowa right now, but I say any politico who takes the time to roll up his sleeves (very Juan Peron of him!) and walk the picket line with a bunch of sweaty, unshaven writers is a friend of mine! Go, Edwards!


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WGA/AMPTP talks to resume!

Good news! Late Friday evening, the AMPTP finally agreed to return to the negotiating table with WGA leaders on Monday, November 26th.

And while that doesn’t mean the strike is over — not by a longshot! We will continue to strike and man our picket lines at full force for the duration of the talks — it is a good sign that the AMPTP are at least agreeing to meet again.

Awesome WGA member shirt seen on the picket lines @ NBC Burbank (Nov. 16, 2007)

I’m not sure what spurred the studios into action — maybe they just got sick of looking like soulless corporate assholes! — or even if I trust their motives at this point, but I do welcome their decision to return to the bargaining table. So, welcome back, greed-meisters! And please, try not to screw us over too bad.

Rather that go on about the details, I’ve decided instead to reprint excerpts from a super cool e-mail that went out tonight from our rocking WGA Prez, Patric Verrone. Wow, no wonder he’s the head of our guild, this dude can write!

Enjoy, and que viva la union!

WGA lemonade stand on the NBC picket lines (Nov. 16, 2007)

To My Fellow Members:

This evening the WGA and the AMPTP announced that we will resume negotiations on Monday, November 26. This announcement is a direct result of your efforts. It is the direct result of the hours you have spent on the picket lines, the days you’ve spent educating friends and colleagues, the boundless energy you’ve put into engaging with not only the Hollywood talent community, but people all over the country and the world. It is a direct result of your dedication to this union and to each other.

Over the past two weeks we have shown incredible resolve and resourcefulness. Every fifteen minutes someone sends me an e-mail with a new suggestion or a copy of a supportive news article or an entertaining and informative pro-writer YouTube video. Actors, local legislators, fans, and fellow members of the Hollywood workforce joined us in droves on our picketing lines this week. SAG’s Alan Rosenberg and I were warmly welcomed in Washington D.C. and offered support from every member of Congress with whom we met. These developments all undoubtedly contributed to the decision to return to the table.

For 12 days I have repeated that a powerful strike means a short strike. In that time we have proven that bad news won’t slow us down. Now it is equally important that we now prove that good news won’t slow us down, either. We must remember that returning to the bargaining table is only a start. Our work is not done until we achieve a good contract and that is by no means assured. Accordingly, what we achieve in negotiations will be a direct result of how successfully we can keep up our determination and resolve.

Once again, I thank you all for your efforts and ask you to continue to dedicate yourself to this cause with the same level of energy and enthusiasm that has gotten us to where we are today. We are all in this together.


Patric M. Verrone
President, WGAW

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Bullhorn madness on Fox

Remember what I was saying about the bullhorn in my last post? Well, if you’re interested in hearing my chanting skills in all their “glory”, they appeared front and center in a segment on last nights Fox 11 News. The clip also has some rocking footage of the KT Tunstall set I mentioned before and even a brief interview with the sassy Scot.

While we were picketing outside NBC, the Fox News crew filmed us running through our entire litany of chants, and sadly, ended up airing one of our lesser ditties: “Keep your Tivos nice and filled…please support the Writers Guild!”

I know, I know…not my finest wordsmithery, but hey, you try coming up with new rhyming chants every few minutes for FOUR HOURS. It’s hard work!

SCREENCAP from Fox 11 News of me chanting on the picket lines outside NBC Studios, Burbank (Nov. 14, 2007)

Anyway, don’t know if the link here is still active or if Fox has it set up to change to a newer video clip every few hours, but give it a try and see what happens:

And at the very least, you can enjoy the blurry screencap provided above. But if you do get to watch the clip, stick around till the end where we serve up our second favorite chant of the day: “Ellen is no friend of mine…she danced across our picket line!” That’s right, we’ll give you something to cry about Degeneres!

Also take a moment to savor the irony of the fact that the news clip is embedded with an advertisement for the upcoming feature film, “Beowulf”. Hmm…and the AMPTP says they haven’t discovered a way to monetize the internet yet?

Ha! They’ve monetized the freaking nightly new, just imagine how much more they can get for scripted shows! Ooo, that’s good. I’ll have to try and work that into tomorrow’s chant…

What rhymes with monetize?


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KT Tunstall rocks the line!

This afternoon at 2:30pm, Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter KT Tunstall performed a brief impromptu concert for the striking WGA “troops” on the picket lines outside the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank.

KT Tunstall rocks the WGA picket line @ Disney Studios, Burbank (Nov. 14, 2007)

Though I was stationed at NBC with my usual picket line crew, we all hiked down Alameda to Disney to see the show. And what a show it was!

In town to tape a few talk show appearances that aren’t happening due to the strike — guess she wasn’t booked on that old scab Ellen’s show! — KT decided to support our cause and bring her music to the streets. Honestly, I wasn’t that big of a fan before, but man alive, that skinny Scot can blow!

KT Tunstall rocking the WGA picket line outside the Disney Studios, Burbank (Nov. 14, 2007)

She was awesome! Starting off her set with her hit song “Black Horse & The Cherry Tree” (which was slaughtered nightly by Katherine McPhee on “American Idol” a couple years back) KT then launched straight away into another number I didn’t know. It was good, but the highlight was probably her rocking version of that TV show staple “Suddenly I See” which sounded amazing, even out there on the street!

Finishing up her set, KT sang The Jackson Five’s classic “I Want You Back” changing the lyrics to represent the current status of talks (which is no talking at all) between the AMPTP and WGA leadership. I wish I could remember her revised lyrics, they were pretty funny.

KT Tunstall singing the Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back” to striking WGA writers @ Disney Studios, Burbank (Nov. 14, 2007)

Despite the sweltering November heat, KT put on a pretty cool little show, and best of all — during these lean times for everyone involved — it was free! Thank you, KT Tunstall! You rock!

On our way back to NBC, my friend Wan (a writer’s assistant on ABC’s “Caveman”) and I ran into “There’s Something About Mary” writer/director Peter Farrelly. He was super friendly and even allowed us to take a couple of pictures with him. Thanks, dude!

Writer/Director Bobby Farrelly & Wan @ the WGA picket lines outside Disney Studios, Burbank (Nov. 14, 2007)

And then, megaphone in hand, I chanted back down the block with my team (actually, I think I was the only one chanting at that point) towards our regular picket line at NBC. As you can tell from the picture below, I’m getting pretty comfortable behind that old megaphone these days.

Rocking the megaphone after KT Tunstall’s WGA picket line gig @ Disney (Nov. 14, 2007)

I’m no KT Tunstall (yet!) but brother, I can chant it out with the best of them! Que viva la union!


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“Voices Of Uncertainty”

This was forwarded to me tonight by one of the writers on my WGA strike team. Culled from actual interviews with many of the CEO’s we’re striking against, it was put together and posted yesterday on YouTube by one of our more impassioned members.

I know the image quality is a bit wonky in spots, but this clip pretty much sums up what we’ve been saying about the AMPTP all along…and in their own words no less! Another fine example of classic “Hollywood accounting” in action. Enjoy!



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WGA Strike: Day Five!

Sorry for the delay in getting this post up, but my WGA picket line duties — which, oddly enough, have become even more fun and invigorating in week two — have nonetheless put a serious cramp in my blogging time. I’m not complaining, but, man alive, after sticking it to the AMPTP all day long, writing is the last thing I wanna do at night.

Cool, Mr. Burns picket sign designed by a striking “Simpsons” writer @ the FOX Studios strike rally (Nov. 9, 2007)

So, while I probably won’t be posting daily updates from the picket lines EVERY day from here on out, I wanted to finish out the posts from week one with a bang.

And let me tell ya, Friday’s historic WGA unity rally — with over 4,000 striking writers gathering outside the main gates of the 20th Century Fox Studios in Century City — was one hell of a bang!

WGA members gathering outside FOX Studios (Nov. 9, 2007)

Shutting down Pico Blvd. and Avenue of the Stars in both directions, red-shirted WGA members and their supporters poured into the streets for a rousing strike rally kicked off by a rocking mini-set from Rage Against The Machine’s madmen Zach de la Rocha and Tom Morello.

RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE’s Zach de la Rocha and Tom Morello @ the WGA strike rally oustide FOX (Nov. 9, 2007)

Unfortunately, there were so many people there that I couldn’t hear a word they sang, much less get a picture like the one above (which I borrowed from a cool photo essay on but I heard later that their brief set was filled with pro-union songs calling for “a fair share of the wealth” and that sounds good to me. So, rock on, hermanos!

Next up was the Rev. Jesse Jackson — who I also could not see or hear, so, thanks again to for the pic! — who spoke at length about the long, storied history of unions in America. That’s right, Jesse, sing it, dude!

Rev. Jesse Jackson rallying the WGA troops outside FOX Studios (Nov. 9, 2007)

But despite rousing speeches by SAG president Alan Rosenberg (“L.A. Law”), several members of the WGA negotiating committee, and TV legend Norman Lear (who I managed to snap a pic of later, see below) perhaps the most heartfelt words spoken that day came from “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane.

Speaking to the fact that the average WGA member makes $62,000 a year (WAY less than the $200,000 figure tossed out last week by the AMPTP) and usually struggles to make ends meet between gigs, MacFarlane said: “[WGA members] are middle class. They live in homes that look to me like the home I grew up in, and my parents were teachers.” Nicely put, Seth!

TV legend Norman Lear meets the press @ the WGA unity rally outside FOX Studios (Nov. 9, 2007)

And as the cheering crowd wildly shook their picket signs in approval, WGA President Patric Verrone summed up the energy of the membership perfectly with his parting words: “Two years ago, we started this campaign by looking for leadership from our members…what we found was a membership of leaders!” Wow…not a dry eye in the crowd.

And then, we marched down Avenue of the Stars towards Fox!

WGA members @ the unity rally outside FOX Studios (Nov. 9, 2007)

Being the total celebrity stalker that I am, I made the rounds snapping pictures with anyone and everyone who’d have me: “Happy Days” writer/director Gary Marshall, “Best Week Ever” co-hosts and self-proclaimed “cultural pundits” Frances and Angela (aka “Frangela”), Oscar-winning writer/director Paul Haggis, and best of all, “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” creator, Joss Whedon! Awesome!!

Me & “Happy Days” writer/director Gary Marshall @ the WGA strike rally outside FOX Studios (Nov. 9, 2007)

Me & BEST WEEK EVER’s “Frangela” @ the WGA strike rally outside FOX Studios (Nov. 9, 2007)

Oscar-winning “Crash” writer/director Paul Haggis and me outside FOX Studios (Nov. 9, 2007)

“Buffy The Vampire Slayer” creator Joss Whedon & me @ the WGA strike rally outside FOX Studios (Nov. 9, 2007)

I also snapped some candid shots of “Frasier’s” Kelsey Grammer, former “24” and “Far From Heaven” actor Dennis Haysbert and even though it didn’t turn out (sorry!) an impassioned Billy Baldwin (“Dirty Sexy Money”) discussing the strike with a fiery redhead.

But probably the highlight of the celebrity tilt-a-whirl that day was talking AMPTP trash (at length!) with “Family Ties” actress Justine Bateman, who is shown below chatting up my super cool strike captain (and ride for the day!) game show writer Aaron Solomon.

Kelsey Grammer chats with reporters @ the WGA unity rally outside FOX Studios (Nov. 9, 2007)

“24″ actor Dennis Haysbert talks to the media @ the WGA strike rally outside FOX Studios (Nov. 9, 2007)

Don’t know if you can make it out from the Bateman pic or not, but Aaron (on the far left) is wearing a shirt from the short-lived Fox game show “GREED”.

Aside from our friend Ginger, who had the misfortune of attending a taping of that lame-ass show with me back in the day, I’m sure no one watched “GREED”. But man, just the sight of the words: “I feel the need for GREED” looming over the Fox logo on Aaron’s shirt was hilarious!

My WGA strike captain, Aaron talking strike with “Family Ties” actress, Justine Bateman @ the WGA strike rally (Nov. 9, 2007)

Ha! Who would have thought a grungy old shirt from a canceled game show (hosted by the über cheesy Chuck Woolery no less!) would so perfectly encapsulate one of the central problems at the heart of this strike?

Down with AMPTP corporate greed, que viva la union!


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WGA Strike: Day Four!

Day four of the strike was pretty much business as usual: the AMPTP still refused to even talk to the WGA leadership, I continued walking the picket line at NBC studios, and that old scab, WGA member Ellen Degeneres, continued to cross a picket line — that included her own writing staff! — to tape her stupid show.

The sign out front of that old scab Ellen’s show, NBC Studios, Burbank (Nov. 8, 2007)

Yeah, you heard me. Ellen Degeneres, who just a couple weeks ago weeped like a lunatic for a puppy, could give a shit about her own writers. The thing that really steams me is that earlier in the week, all these news outlets reported how Ellen’s show didn’t tape on Monday in honor of the strike…well, technically, that’s true…the show did not tape on Monday.

But that’s only because Ellen doesn’t tape her show on Mondays anyway! Wow, guess it’s pretty easy to appear sympathetic to our cause, on your DAY OFF! On Tuesday afternoon (not her DAY OFF) “America’s Sweetheart” danced right across our picket lines to tape her show. In her awkward, sputtering opening monologue (which could have used a rewrite, had she the staff to pen it for her) Ellen said she didn’t wanna disappoint her fans by not doing her show.

That old scab Ellen Degeneres weeping for that stupid dog a couple weeks back. Where are the tears for her writers?!

How sweet, she did it for the fans. Well, lemme tell ya, that phony bitch doesn’t have many fans right now on the picket lines, and if she ever hosts the Oscars again, I think she’ll probably give that old Red-baiting name-namer Elia Kazan a run for his money in the popularity department.

To paraphrase some of the more color words used to describe Ms. Degeneres on the front lines, I’ll simply say: “You suck, Ellen!”

Jay Leno’s motorcyle on the WGA picket lines @ NBC Studios, Burbank (Nov. 8, 2007)

Someone who definitely doesn’t suck is Jay Leno, who paid his daily — and sometimes hourly! — visit to the picket lines to chat with his striking writers.

Jay arrived on his motorcycle (pictured above) just in time to hear a strike update/pep talk delivered to the troops by his head “Tonight Show” writer, Joe Medeiros (pictured below, with Jay). But despite Mr. Medeiros’ rousing speech — seriously, it was fantastic, this guy should run for national office! — I think the look on Jay’s face says it all. This strike sucks for everyone.

“Tonight Show” Head-Writer, Joe Medeiros & Jay Leno on the picket lines outside NBC Studios, Burbank (Nov. 8, 2007)

As usual, the brightest moments of the generally gray day, came in the form of food. Joe’s super cool wife (pictured below with her husband) has been in contact with several of the out-of-state vendors featured on “Tonight Show” remotes over the years, and the generous donations of fresh, air-mailed food have been pouring in ever since.

Today’s offerings included gigantic soft pretzels flown in from Philadelphia — “City of Brotherly Love” indeed! — by the fine folks at Slathered in hot mustard, these pretzels were amazing! Thanks, Philly!

Mr. & Mrs. Joe Medeiros and those amazing Philly soft pretzels!

And for dessert? An industrial-sized thermos of piping-hot Ghiradelli hot chocolate, hand-delivered by a pink-tied agent from one of the biggest talent agencies in town, Creative Artists Agency (CAA)!

As you can imagine, the cocoa was delicious. And best off all, this pink-tied agent — his name was Ari and yes, he’s heard all the “Entourage” jokes! — didn’t take ten percent off the top, so this pot o’ chocolate love was all ours! Yeah!

Picket Captain Pete Sears bringing CAA hot chocolate to the thirsty WGA hordes outside NBC Studios, Burbank (Nov. 8, 2007)

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Schmap!! Nashville Guide

In non-strike related news, got a super cool e-mail (through my Flickr photo account) recently from Emma Williams, the Managing Editor of travel guides. Shockingly, Schmap!! selected one of the pictures I took on our recent trip to Nashville for inclusion on their site. Cool, huh?

Screencap of Schmap!! Nashville Guide: Fourth Edition

The picture they chose is of the Grand Ole Opry’s Main Entrance, and while it is not my favorite picture from our trip, I was pretty stoked that Schmap!! liked it enough to include it on their website!

Having been to the new Opryland hall in person, I know that it’s not exactly pretty, so I imagine any picture that makes it looks halfway decent is a good one. Honestly, I didn’t even like the picture enough to post it on the blog, but now that it’s become so well-known, well, here it is!

Grand Ole Opry Main Entrance, Opryland, Nashville (August 2007)

For those of you who’ve never heard of Schmap!! — don’t feel bad, I’d never heard of them either till they contacted me — the site is basically an amateur online travel guide, with maps, photos and reviews of where to stay, eat, shop, etc. in a number of travel destinations around the world.

Coolly enough, Christine’s store is included in the Los Angeles edition — no picture on that one yet, but I’ll work on getting a good one up on Flickr soon! But for now, whenever anyone explores the Schmap!! Nashville Travel Guide: Fourth Edition, my nerdy little cropped picture of the main entrance to the Grand Ole Opry will be there for all to see.

Wow, thank you, Schamp!!


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WGA Strike: Day Three!

As I mentioned in my last post, this day was a killer. Got up at the crack of dawn — actually it was well before the crack of dawn — and headed out to Studio City for an early morning picket line outside the CBS Radford Studios.

WGA members marching in the pre-dawn hours outside CBS Radford (Nov. 7, 2007)

Despite the cold and the total darkness, here again the energy level of the WGA troops was higher than ever, and this time we were joined not just by members of SAG and AFTRA but also several members of the Directors Guild of America (DGA) and at least two very friendly dogs. All in all, a very cool bunch.

Our goal with the early arrival was to stop Teamsters (who have vowed not to cross our picket lines) from driving their equipment trucks onto the lot. Without the equipment, the shows would be forced to shut down and the disruption would hopefully force the AMPTP back to the bargaining table with us.

WGA members walking the line outside CBS Radford, Studio City (Nov. 7, 2007)

The results were mixed, but we did stop two Teamster drivers from crossing the lines. And when you consider the fact that all the major studios and networks sat these guys down last week and took the names of people who would not cross the picket lines, then threatened to fire them if they didn’t (which is TOTALLY illegal, by the way) the fact that ANY of these guys stood their guns and refused to cross our picket lines is pretty damn ballsy!

So, thanks, Teamster dudes, you guys seriously rock!

WGA members marching outside CBS Radford, Studio City (Nov. 7, 2007)

We didn’t stop them all from crossing — and I kind of understand why, I mean, it’s gotta be scary to possibly lose your job for someone else’s strike — but I do think our continued presence at the gates around town is starting to have a cumulative effect on their thinking. So, hopefully more Teamsters will join our cause in the days to come and we can force the AMPTP to resume contract talks.

Also got to meet some really cool feature film writers on this picket line. I shared an Egg McMuffin (taken from a huge donated box of them, pictured below!) with the guy who wrote the first “X-Men” and “Constantine” which was really cool.

And then later in the morning, joined the group in an impromptu sing-along of classic TV theme songs — “Alice” and “Diff’rent Strokes” seemed to be the crowd favorites — not exactly the kind of stuff you hear striking auto workers chanting, but hey, what do you expect from a bunch of writers?

Donated Box-o-McMuffins @ CBS Radford, Studio City (Nov. 7, 2007)

Headed home at around 7:30 to drive Christine to the subway and seriously crash for a few hours before schlepping out to NBC in the afternoon.

A long day, but a good one. But man, just the sight of that box of steaming McMuffins emerging from the pre-dawn mist…mmm, talk about McDreamy…it was almost like I never woke up. =)

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“The Office Is Closed”

Thought you might enjoy this super cool YouTube clip of some of the writers and cast from “The Office” working the picket lines. Really funny stuff, but my favorite quote of the day (not featured in this clip) is one that Steve Carell issued to the press on Tuesday.

When asked why he didn’t show up for work this week on “The Office”, Mr. Carell (a hero in WGA circles right now for his stance) cited a case of “enlarged balls”. Ha, awesome! If everyone in town had cojones like Steve Carell, this strike would be over tomorrow. Enjoy the clip and que viva la union!


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WGA Strike: Day Two!

Sorry for not writing more regularly, but have been walking the picket lines pretty much day and night the past three days and have been seriously fried by the time I get home. But tired as I am, my enthusiasm (not to mention that of my fellow WGA members) and dedication to this strike has only intensified the past past few days!

I’m not kidding, the energy of the writers on the picket line is truly amazing!

WGA picket sign outside NBC Studios, Burbank (Nov. 6, 2007)

Spent Tuesday afternoon picketing outside one of the rear gates at NBC Studios here in Burbank, and though we didn’t get much traffic back there, I did meet some really awesome TV writers. Writers for HBO, NBC, FOX, basic cable networks like AMC, you name it, they were out there in force!

Many of the most passionate writers on the picket line were from “The Tonight Show” and since these guys are already feeling the economic pinch from not working, seeing them out there fighting for the cause was really inspirational. These guys kick ass!

WGA picket lines outside NBC Studios, Burbank (Nov. 6. 2007)

One of the coolest things that happened Tuesday was when a worker from inside NBC drove off the lot and then stopped about halfway down the block. Calling over one of the writers on the picket line (obviously a friend) the dude in the car handed his friend a crate of bottled water he’d taken from the NBC offices for us.

Ha! Suck it, NBC! We’re quenching our writerly thirst with your pilfered studio water (pictured below), hilarious! We should have staged our own Boston Tea Party and poured it out in the street in protest, but hey, we were thirsty. So, we totally drank it!

WGA picket sign next to pilfered “NBC” water, NBC Studios, Burbank (Nov. 6, 2007)

No major celebrity encounters on Tuesday, but we did get a shout out from “The Tonight Show” regular and former fatty, Ross “The Intern” as he drove past. Honking, he cheered us on and gave us an enthusiastic thumbs up. That was pretty cool and on a side note, it looks like he kept the weight off from “Celebrity Fit Club”. So, good for him!

Later in the day, myself and couple newfound friends (both of whom write for TV and one of whom is actually a former client of my ex-agent, Marci Wright! Ha! Small world.) moved to the “front lines” on Alameda.

WGA members picketing outside NBC Studios, Burbank (Nov. 6, 2007)

Standing in the area just outside the main audience entrance to “The Tonight Show” the three of us were photographed from across the street by David McNew, a news photographer for Getty Images. You can see (and even buy, if you so desire) our lovely picture and many more at:

It kind of sucks that there are no actual “Tonight Show” writers in the Getty pic, but hey, we’re all in this together, so, I guess you snap a pic of one WGA member with a picket sign, you capture them all. Ha!

Anyway, will post more on my “split-shift” picket line activities yesterday — at CBS Radford from 5-7:30am and then NBC from 3:30-5:00pm — later tonight, until then, enjoy the pics and que viva la union!

WGA Picket signs outside NBC Studios, Burbank (Nov, 6, 2007)



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WGA Strike: Day One!

Monday was the first full day of the WGA strike and Hollywood writers were out in force, with more than 3000 members picketing outside 14 different locations in and around Los Angeles. And not only were the writers making waves, but many prominent actors and show runners (a fancy word for writer/producers) have also pledged their allegiance to our cause.

WGA picket lines outside CBS Television Center (Nov. 5, 2007)

Emmy-winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus (wife of WGA member Brad Hall) walked off the set of her CBS show “The New Adventures Of Old Christine” to show her solidarity with the guild and Steve Carell and the entire cast and writing staff of “The Office” refused to work and hit the picket lines instead.

Jay Leno — who’s show, like many “live” late night chat-fests is in repeats until further notice — even brought Krispy Kreme donuts to the WGA hordes outside the NBC Studios! Right on, Jay!

WGA members marching outside CBS Television Center (Nov. 5, 2007)

But the most promising news of the day is that 100-plus of the most powerful show runners in television (including Tina Fey of “30 Rock” and Shonda “Grey’s Anatomy” Rhimes) have vowed to stop working on their shows (despite the consequences of breaking their contracts) for the duration of the strike. Wow! Now, if that doesn’t get the AMPTP’s attention, I don’t know what will!

As I mentioned in my last post, I walked the picket lines outside the CBS Television City Studios in Hollywood from 1:00-5:00pm, and man, what a thrill! The energy level was through the roof and the supportive honks and cheers from passing cars, trucks and especially city bus drivers (go MTA!) was really amazing.

WGA strikers outside CBS Television Center (Nov. 5, 2007)

But one of the coolest (and most unexpected!) things I experienced on the front lines was the selfless participation of so many non-WGA members. I met at least two total strangers, neither of whom are in the union, who came out to support us just for the hell of it! Wow!

And we had a number of actors join us as well, with members of both SAG (The Screen Actors Guild) and AFTRA (The American Federation of Television and Radio Actors) walking the picket line right alongside us.

Robert Patrick walks the picket line with the WGA outside CBS (Nov. 5, 2007)

My favorites were “The X-Files” and “Terminator 2” star Robert Patrick (pictured from behind in the shot above) and former “SNL” regular Norm MacDonald, seen on the far left in the picture below.

Norm was very cool, giving interviews to the press and smiling for fan pictures, but Robert Patrick was downright awesome! Totally cool and super friendly, Señor Patrick said he hated the fact that the strike was happening at all, but since it was, he knew what side he needed to be on. So cool!

Norm MacDonald on the front lines with the WGA! (Nov. 5, 2007)

While the turnout at all the studios was spectacular (Fox Studios alone had 545 people marching outside their front gates!) the crowd at NBC Burbank was a bit light yesterday (roughly 121 people showed up), so tomorrow, I’m heading there to help boost their numbers and maybe even snag a free donut or two from Jay!

Enjoy the pics and que viva la union!


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Hitting the bricks!

Returned home tonight and got my final marching orders from my WGA Strike Captain (a chill quiz show writer dude from Burbank), and so, tomorrow, from 1:00-5:00pm you’ll find me burning up the sidewalk with mis hermanos outside the CBS Television City Studios in Hollywood.

WGA picket signs ready for use!

So, look for me on CNN, baby! I’ll be the sweaty fat one huffing and puffing down the block in my bright red WGA t-shirt!

Oh, yeah, and if you’re in the neighborhood, feel free to bring sunblock and pizza…not necessarily in that order. Que viva la union!

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“No Country For Old Men”

This afternoon, with strike storm clouds looming on the horizon, Christine and I ventured into the heart of Hollywood to see a WGA screening of Joel and Ethan Coen’s latest film, “No Country For Old Men” at the Chinese Theatre. And all I can say is, wow!

“No Country For Old Men” (2007)

Violent, beautiful and often downright poetic, “No Country…” — adapted from the novel by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Cormac McCarthy — blends the best elements of “Fargo” and “Blood Simple” with the dark, offbeat humor of “Raising Arizona” and the result is probably one of their finest films to date.

Anchored by the amazing, Oscar-worthy performances of Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones and a superb Kelly MacDonald (who we have loved since her fressh-faced feature debut in “Trainspotting”) the movie is probably going to be best remembered for the towering, iconic performance of Oscar-nominee (“Before Night Falls”) Javier Bardem.

Javier Bardem in “No Country For Old Men” (2007)

Bardem’s hired killed is seriously dangerous and truly captivating, trust me, there hasn’t been a movie villain like this since Dennis Hopper donned an oxygen mask in “Blue Velvet”! Rocking a freaky pageboy doo, Bardem’s character is so hard to nail down — not to mention so totally bizarre! — that you never know what he’ll do next, and that is part of what makes the movie so bleeping awesome!

Playing with our ideas of how a gritty genre story like this should play out, the movie twists and turns in so many truly unexpected directions that you finally give up trying to figure it out and just enjoy the long, strange ride through the stunning, west Texas vistas.

Talking about it too much might give some of the surprises away, but if you are in any way a fan of the Coen brothers, I urge you to check this movie out immediately, it really is up there with their best work!

Tommy Lee Jones in “No Country For Old Men” (2007)

But even better than the movie was the discussion that followed it. Moderated by another one of my favorite writer/directors, Noah Baumbach (an Oscar nominee himself for the screenplay for “The Squid And The Whale”) the panel discussion included Joel and Ethan Coen, Kelly MacDonald, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem and in a surprise late-arrival, Tommy Lee Jones! Wow, talk about star wattage!

They talked for a bit about the making of the movie, took some seriously lame questions from the crowd — “Why would you make such a violent film in times like these?” Um, hello? Have you seen their movies? Violent, hilarious flicks are kind of what they do best! — and then ducked across the street to the red carpet outside the El Capitan for the Hollywood premiere of the movie.

We didn’t stay to watch the celebs arriving, as we were starving, but Christine and I did get to rub shoulders with Tommy Lee Jones (who is a GIANT in real life! I’m serious, he’s huge!) on the way out.

AP pic of Joel & Ethan Coen on the “No Country” red carpet (Nov. 4, 2007)

But the highlight for me was when I ran into Ethan Coen on the way into the discussion! Tapping him on the shoulder, I told him the movie was fantastic and gave him a big old nerdy thumbs up. I know…lame! But these guys are like, my cinematic heroes…seriously, I’m surprised I could speak at all!

My new best friend Ethan was very cool, smiled and said, “Oh, hey, thanks a lot. Glad you liked it.” Liked it? We loved it, dude! Can’t wait to see it again to memorize the best lines!


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“Michael Clayton”

OK, I know…enough with the movie reviews, right? Sorry, but “Michael Clayton” was so damn good I had to blog about it. Ever since we first saw that kick-ass movie poster — blurring George Clooney’s face? Shocking! — Christine and I had been wanting to see this flick, and man, was it worth the wait!

One of the most dense, fascinating films we’ve seen in a long time, “Michael Clayton” sucks you into it’s vortex almost from the first shot. It’s a little slow (methodical slow NOT boring slow) and it’s probably not for everyone, but if you’re in the mood for a killer puzzle of a movie, this is it.

Cool “Michael Clayton” poster!

Playing a spectacularly flawed “fixer” for a major law firm, George Clooney shows his chops in ways we haven’t seen since his masterful, Oscar-winning turn in “Syriana”. You wouldn’t think it to look at him, but Clooney plays semi-tragic losers like nobody’s business. And he is on fire here. Really amazing!

And the supporting cast is equally stellar. In probably his most nuanced, soulful performance ever, Tom Wilkinson (“The Full Monty”, “In The Bedroom”) is a virtual lock for a supporting actor nod. He is crazy-brilliant here and his wild-eyed rants are absolutely thrilling to behold. But our favorite performance in the movie belongs to the always luminous, Tilda Swinton.

The portrait of brittle, cocky desperation, Tilda Swinton’s conflicted Karen Crowder is the star of the show. Watching her peel back the layers of this lonely, insanely misguided career woman is as exciting as movie acting gets.

Tilda Swinton unraveling in “Michael Clayton” (2007)

Whether playing the dowdy hausfrau discovering her sensual (not to mention fully nude!) side with Ewan McGregor in the underrated “Young Adam” or playing the coolest angel Gabriel ever in the stunningly bad “Constantine”, Tilda Swinton has built a career playing this type of coolly composed ice queen, and watching her unravel here is…wow…just incredible! Seriously, just give this chick an Oscar already.

And to top it all off, this movie was directed by a screenwriter! Yeah! First-time director Tony Gilroy (“The Devil’s Advocate”, the “Bourne” movies, “Dolores Claiborne”, etc.) said he was sick of seeing his scripts ruined by lesser directors and wrote this movie for himself. Right on! You did a bang up job, brutha!

I know it’s been out for a while, and hasn’t exactly gotten the biggest push from the studio, but if you’re looking for a complex, adult night at the movies, “Michael Clayton” is your man!


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Dia De Los Muertos

On Friday night, Christine and I celebrated the second day of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) with a feast of our deceased loved one’s favorite foods!

Traditionally, Dia de los Muertos is a festive two-day celebration of friends and family who have passed away, with the first day (All Saints’ Day) reserved for celebrating children who have died, and the second (All Souls’ Day) dedicated to remembering the adults.

Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead) for Dia de los Muertos, 2007

We aren’t always literal with which day we celebrate Dia de los Muertos, but we do roll out a pretty tasty (and many would probably say…eclectic) array of our loved one’s favorite foods for them to enjoy with us from the afterlife.

Although we took a ton of pictures, I decided to post one from last year’s feast in honor of another dear friend we recently lost, our former kitchen table. As you can see below, he was still very much among the living this time last year!

Last year’s Dia de los Muertos feast!

This year I made my world-famous tuna casserole in honor of my sister Brittany (who went inexplicably wild for it while visiting us one summer when she was a little girl!), poured plenty of beer for my Grandpa Romero — even toasting him with his patented “Arriba, abajo, al centro y al dentro!” — had plenty of sweet, delicious Pan de Muerto — Bread of the Dead, pictured above and purchased at our favorite Mexican tienda in NoHo — on hand and even filled a tiny shot glass full of cat food for our departed feline friends, Frida and Lourdes.

Ryan, Brittany & Me celebrating the 4th of July w/cigars & port!

Although I’ve seen Dia de los Muertos celebrated a number of different ways (in Cuernavaca, Mexico they ban liquor of any kind for the entire two days, which kinda sucked) what we usually do is gather a bunch of our loved one’s belongings (pictures, gifts they gave us or we gave them, Brittany’s old toys, fun stuff she loved, etc.) and create a small shrine around the items in the bookcase.

Lighting a bunch of candles, we pour them some beer, orange juice or milk — for Christine’s Dad, Buster, who never drank hard alcohol — and even some fresh-squeezed tuna juice for the cats!

Brittany camping outside her “teepee”!

Me, Christine & Brittany having a face-painting party!

We then prepare them a heaping plate of food, set them a place at the table with us and eat! Just one plate by the way…we don’t pull out the leaf or anything.

I know it sounds totally somber, but Dia de los Muertos is actually the exact opposite of that. Rooted in native Mexican culture, it is supposed to be a time when the walls between the living and dead are so thin that the dead are free to come home to visit.

Grandpa “Ito” Romero reading with Brittany!

And rather than show them how sad we’ve been without them, the idea is to celebrate the lives of our departed loved ones, treat them to some of their favorite foods and drinks and just generally live it up.

I’m not saying it’s not emotional, because, Lord knows, sometimes it’s emotional as hell — and let me tell ya, tuna casserole is not what you wanna be eating when you’re sobbing between bites, yikes! — but celebrating all that was beautiful and amazing about those who are no longer with us is really kind of wonderful.

And, man alive, that strange-looking pink bread is delicious!

Me, Courtney, Brittany and Ryan at his wedding to Laura!

Although our favorite pictures of Buster and our beer-swilling cat Lourdes — seriously, she loved the stuff, probably too much if you know what I’m saying — are, sadly, pre-digital, we wanted to post some our favorite pics of Brittany, Grandpa Romero and Frida in honor of the good times we had with them all.

Until next year, feliz Dia de los Muertos a todos!

Frida enjoying a leisurely little bath in the tub!


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Hollywood Writers Strike!!

Well, it’s official, at a press conference held this afternoon, WGA President Patric Verrone and the members of the WGA Negotiating Committee announced plans to launch the first industry-wide writer’s strike in almost 20 years this coming Monday at 12:01am.

That said, let the AMPTP media mudslinging begin!

“The Picket Line”, April 3, 1941 by Pulitzer Prize winning Photographer, Milton Banks

As I said in my last post, get ready to hear a very one-sided argument in the coming days about the irreparable damager writers are set to to inflinct on the indusrty. All I can say about that is, don’t believe everything you hear and read, because somewhere beyond the AMPTP subterfuge is the real story.

In the words of WGA member Chris Carter’s iconic character, Fox Mulder: “The truth is out there” and writers are slowly but surely spreading that truth through blogs, online chat rooms and anyone else who will have us. So if you want the real story of what this is all about, dig deeper.

Today alone there have been dozens of thoughtful, intelligent blog postings on The Huffington Post’s “Writers’ Strike Opinion Page” by writers and actors from every sector of the entertainment industry. But perhaps the best quotes I found online came from a spirited quid pro quo between the men of the hour themselves, the WGA’s Patric Verrone and the AMPTP’s Nick Counter:

“Rather than address our members’ primary concern, the studios made it clear that they would rather shut down the town than reach a fair and reasonable deal…this is not an action that anyone takes lightly. But it slowly became apparent that the studios are not prepared to deal fairly with writers and the rest of the talent community,” WGA West president Patric M. Verrone said.

“We are committed to seeing this through and are willing to engage in any further discussions if the studios so desire,” he added.

In response, AMPTP president Nick Counter, in a statement, said, “The WGA’s call for a strike is precipitious and irresponsible. The writer is one of our most highly regarded assets and one of our most highly rewarded. Working writers on average earn over $200,000 a year.”

Right. And we all drive pimped-out Bentley’s too. Please…if that comment alone doesn’t show the vast divide between our stance and that of the studios, then I don’t know what does. See you at the picket line, Mr. Counter!

Oh, and um, don’t even think of trying any of that action pictured above, cause this WGA member has a real Jedi lightsaber and he knows how to use it!

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Pencils down…

Last night, myself and more than 3,000 other WGA members marched — well, technically most of us drove, but marching sounds cooler — to the L.A. Convention Center for an historic general meeting to discuss the current state of our ongoing contract talks with the AMPTP (The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers).

And, since the AMPTP abruptly walked out of federally mediated discussions with the WGA leaders on Wednesday afternoon, I’d say the present state of contract talks was nonexistent at best.

Pencils down at the WGA!

In essence, the AMPTP declared that they will not even discuss the core proposals we have been rallying behind (residuals for internet downloads, improving the DVD formula, etc.) and will not sit down with us again until those items are off the table. Of course, after our meeting tonight, the savvy Sith Lord, Nick Counter (the AMPTP’s chief negotiator) issued a press release declaring his desire to meet with the WGA leaders this weekend to hammer out a deal. Right! If it was that easy, then why haven’t you made one single meaningful concession since July, Lord Counter?!

Essentially, what Counter and the AMPTP are doing is using the media (which is completely owned and controlled by the six major conglomerates we are negotiating with!) against us. Every time they say some pointed comment about greedy writers “shooting ourselves in the foot” with a strike or “ruining the industry” what they are really doing is waging a very public PR war against us. And so far, they’re winning.

Practically everything you read in Variety or The Hollywood Reporter — who both live or die by the pricey full-page ads run by the studios come Oscar time — has a distinctly AMPTP slant to it, and the mainstream media is even worse.

A recent L.A. Times article mentioned how we’re hoping to double our residuals on DVDs. Wow, double the residuals. Sounds like a lot, right? Well, when you make just over four cents on a DVD, doubling the pay is nothing. Of course, they don’t mention that part. Nah, it makes far sexier copy to paint us as residual-rich Malibu-ites hitting the bricks for a bigger cut of the pie while the rest of the industry (caterers, grips, etc.) lose their homes in a selfish strike we caused.

So, rather than have a meaningful discussion of the economic issues behind what we’re fighting for, the media focuses instead on the far juicier subject of the economic impact of a strike. You can almost see the local news sob stories coming down the pike: “Why the caterer’s daughter won’t have a Christmas”. You name it, they’ll throw it at us.

And the truth is, a strike will effect everyone in the industry and if it’s a long one — like in ’88, which lasted 22 weeks — it will be brutal and bloody for everyone involved. But at the end of the day, the issues we’re fighting for are just and meaningful and, not to sound too bombastic, but really sort of define the future of our industry.

As one impassioned speaker last night said: “Digital media isn’t the future, it’s right here, right now!” In a couple of years, hell, EVEN NOW, there will be virtually no distinction between watching a show (or a movie) on the internet and watching one on TV and for the AMPTP to cry poor and deny that fact is practically criminal.

So, as the convention center walls trembled with cheers and applause, WGA President Patric Verrone and the members of the WGA negotiating committee announced that they would be meeting with the WGA Board of Directors in the morning to ask them to authorize a strike as early as sometime today.

It’s important to remember, however, that no firm start date for a strike has been set. I mean, who knows, the AMPTP could surprise everyone and suddenly engage in serious, meaningful contract talks tomorrow, and in that case, things really could be solved over the weekend.

But since the odds of that happening are slimmer than our profit margins on internet downloads, I’d say our shiny WGA pencils will be replaced by shiny WGA picket signs sometime next week…

For more spirited coverage check out the WGA’s new blog: or the WGA’s super informative homesite at:


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