Tag Archives: protest

Greta’s first protest rally…

She may have missed the Writer’s Strike of 2007-2008, but Greta got to stick it to the man anyway this week at her first official protest rally! That’s right, amigos, our little red-shirted cutie joined Mommy and Daddy at the “Hole in the Heart of Hollywood” rally in support of saving the beleaguered Motion Picture and Television Hospital in Woodland Hills.

MPTF protest #1

MPTF protest #2

For those of you who might be unaware of the situation, the MPTF Hospital has been a Hollywood institution since the 1940’s and a place where elderly actors, directors, writers and other film industry veterans can retire among their peers. Set on a sprawling campus in Woodland Hills, the home is now in danger of disappearing forever sometime very soon.

The bigwigs at the Motion Picture and Television Fund are crying poor and saying that in today’s economic climate, they just don’t have the money to keep the home open. But the problem with that claim is that when the families and supporters of keeping the home open approached the MPTF about starting up some possible fundraising efforts, the board declared that no amount of money could keep the home open. Huh?

If the problem is money and you won’t let anyone from arguably one of the most creative communities in the world help you raise it, then what is really going on here? My guess is that the MPTF has already sold the land — which they own outright, by the way! — to some developer and therefore has no real intest in keeping the home open.

MPTF protest #3

MPTF protest #4

MPTF protest #5

MPTF protest #6

But no matter what the back-all shenanigans are here, the situation for the folks still living in the home is dire to say the least. Of the dozens of residents who have already been “removed” from the home, 18 have died within a matter of weeks due to something called “transfer trauma”. WTF, man?!!

These people paid their dues, worked for years in “the biz”, prepaid for their care and are entitled to live out their golden years with their peers. I don’t pretend to know all the details on this one, but what I do know is that if there is a way to keep this place open then we need to do it! If for no other reason than because it is the right thing to do.

I mean, seriously, the motto on the sign out front says it all “Taking Care of Our Own”! So, come on, guys, let’s put the greed aside for a change and get back to the business of doing just that.

MPTF protest #7

MPTF protest #8

For more information on what you can do to help save the home, please visit SavingTheLivesOfOurOwn.org. And to see more pics from Greta’s first protest rally, including many more shots of the celebrity guest speakers, John “Dukes of Hazzard” Schneider and Frances “Titanic” Fisher, click here.

And in the meantime, que viva los viejos a la casa de MPTF!

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The “American Idol” Truth Tour

This Wednesday, the Writer’s Guild of America launched its first ever “American Idol Truth Tour” with a fiery press conference at WGA headquarters in the Fairfax district. Designed to promote awareness of the gross mistreatment of workers on Fremantle Media’s top-rated “American Idol”, the Truth Tour will follow this year’s “Idol” auditions from city to city to promote the cause.

And what a cause it is. Since “Idol” is a defiantly non-union show, the producers routinely break California and Federal labor laws by forcing many of their workers to pull 36 hour shifts with no breaks, no overtime and worst of all, no health benefits or residuals for the work they do on the show.

One former “Idol” production assistant revealed to the crowd on Wednesday that after factoring in all his time spent working on the show, he averaged about $4 an hour. That’s less than half the California minimum wage!

And as several of the Teamsters in the crowd pointed out, “Idol” is also one of the only shows in Hollywood to use non-union drivers. I think WGA Vice President David Weiss said it best when he scolded Fremantle for preying on the starry-eyed new-to-Hollywood crowd when hiring and then systematically using these people up and spitting them out at the end of each season.

Not only is this practice morally wrong, but it’s also illegal and with scores of pending lawsuits and labor board cases against Fremantle and several other producers of so-called “reality shows”, the heat in this kitchen is about to get pretty damn unbearable.

I guess the thing that really galls me — and I am a huge “Idol” fan by the way — is the fact that Fox and Fremantle spend so much time and money touting their massive “Idol Gives Back” charity each year, while at the same time denying their own workers the most basic of benefits. It’s just kind of mind-boggling that the same people that raise millions of dollars every year for charity could be so goddamn greedy when it comes to paying their own workers. Insanity!

So, though I did not get my act together in time to get on the Truth Tour bus to San Francisco — the site of this year’s first round of “Idol” auditions — my friend Patty and I did attend the early-morning press conference on Wednesday to show our support for our WGA brethren.

And I mean to tell ya, that crowd was fired up, baby! Slipping on our new Truth Tour t-shirts, swapping war stories with my fellow WGA strike veterans…man, it was like old home week at the WGA. And even though I didn’t bring much more than a camera with me to the press conference, I have to admit, I was pretty tempted to jump on that bus at the last minute and call it a day.

But to the hardy souls who did get on the bus and staged a rowdy protest at the “Idol” auditions yesterday at the Cow Palace, I say, rock on, writerly soldiers! Here’s to showing the world what really happens behind the scenes at the top-rated show in America!

All we can hope for now is that the press actually covers the Truth Tour events — stories about the press conference were virtually non-existent on the local news last night — and that maybe, just maybe, the soulless bastards at Fremantle will do the right thing and go union.

I know it’s a tall order, but hey, sometimes a little bad publicity is all it takes to make these corporate robots quake in their boots…so, for now, que viva la WGA Truth Tour!

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SAG support unwavering

With the WGA strike entering it’s seventh week today, I was pleased to find a really rocking e-mail of support from Screen Actors Guild (SAG) President Alan Rosenberg (“L.A. Law”, “Chicago Hope”, “CSI”) in my inbox this weekend.

Me & Debra Messing @ Hollywood Rally (Nov. 20, 2007)

I shouldn’t be surprised by the e-mail, as SAG has been a huge supporter of the WGA since even before the strike began, but the fact that their membership continues to stand beside us during this difficult time is really impressive.

I’ve met slews of SAG actors on the picket line in the past few weeks, some famous, some less so, but all of them have been ready and willing to stand with us in our fight for a fair deal from the AMPTP.

“Passions” star James Hyde & Me @ NBC Burbank (Nov. 16, 2007)

So, in honor of our super cool allies in the Screen Actors Guild, I’ve decided to post some of my favorite pics of my new BFF’s — seriously, that one-legged dude who won the first season of “Big Brother” (Eddie, McGee, pictured below) and I are like peas and carrots these days! — accompanied by the full text of the rousing e-mail of support sent out by President Rosenberg tonight. Enjoy!

“Big Brother 1″ winner Eddie McGee & me @ NBC (Nov. 16, 2007)

Dear Writers Guild of America Members,

I am writing to you on behalf of 120,000 proud members of Screen Actors Guild who stand with you in solidarity as your strike continues. We believe that now more than ever, we must remain strong and even more committed to achieving our common objectives. We are proud to walk shoulder-to-shoulder with you and SAG will be there for as long as it takes.

“Desperate Housewives” star Doug Savant hugs me & Wan @ NBC (Nov. 16, 2007)

Your fight is our fight. Our National Executive Director Doug Allen and I are working around the clock with Patric Verrone and David Young to coordinate our strike support efforts. I’m sure you have seen some of the thousands of Screen Actors Guild members who’ve been walking the picket lines in Los Angeles, New York and around the country for the last six weeks.

“Heroes” star Christine Rose, Wan & I @ NBC (Nov. 16, 2007)

I and other Screen Actors Guild representatives have attended your negotiations and your negotiators have been reasonable and professional. The AMPTP put draconian rollbacks on the table, wasting months of negotiating opportunity. The AMPTP walked out of negotiations twice…most recently after an unreasonable ultimatum that WGA withdraw six key bargaining proposals including several relating to new media compensation.

It is time for the AMPTP to return to the bargaining table.

“Lost” & “Tell Me That You Love Me” star Sonya Walger & me (Nov. 20, 2007)

I salute the cast members and rank-and-file SAG members who are so much a part of this struggle and have made their opinions known to the press, the public, and our employers. As most television shows and motion pictures have shut down, actors are not working. But we know that this fight is for the rights of all creative artists, and our collective future is at stake.

We share your sound and reasonable goals for fair compensation for new media formats and we believe you are doing the right thing by taking a stand.

“Desperate Housewives” stars Brenda Strong & James Denton @ NBC (Nov. 16, 2007)

As 2007 comes to an end please be assured, Screen Actors Guild will stand with you for as long as it takes. I wish you and your families peace, perseverance and patience during this difficult time.

In solidarity,

Alan Rosenberg
President, Screen Actors Guild

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