N.Y. picketers tough it out

Rain, no tourists at Silvercup

As a precursor of what lies ahead for striking writers in New York as winter approaches, Day 2 of the walkout dawned on a cold, damp morning for about 25 picketers in front of Silvercup Studios in this industrial section of Queens near the 59th Street Bridge.

Tuesday morning's job action, organized by the WGA East, was quite a contrast from the inaugural picket line at Rockefeller Plaza that drew hundreds of protesters and plenty of attention from local and national media amid hundreds of onlookers.

There wasn't nearly as much activity on 22nd Street in the borough of Queens, where the protest set up with a big inflatable rat a few feet from Silvercup Studios' main entrance. Picketers showed up in the early going, but only a handful of reporters made the trek to Queens. There were few onlookers and only the occasional cab.

Things did get better later as the skies cleared. By midafternoon, there were 75-80 picketers, joined by a dozen sympathizers from other unions during the day.

Unlike the high-traffic Rockefeller Plaza, which was more of a symbolic site for strikers as it houses only a couple of affected shows — "Saturday Night Live" and "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" — Silvercup is where a lot of the New York-based film and TV series production is done. NBC's "30 Rock" and the CW's "Gossip Girl" are filmed here.

"Long Island City has been called Hollywood East," WGA East president Michael Winship said Tuesday.

Despite the low temperatures and drizzle, he was encouraged by the writer turnout so far.

So, are the strikers digging in for a long, cold winter? None would discuss the possibility, saying instead that they were focusing on the day-to-day particulars of the strike and hoping that the stoppage would be settled long before that. But with the warm coffee flowing and a few raindrops falling, it couldn't have been far from their minds.

The weather and lack of attention didn't seem to faze the strikers, who said that they were inspired by the solidarity of the union as well as the efforts of the West Coast writers who were picketing every Hollywood studio.

"The writers in L.A. are making some very inspirational stands, and we've got to match their commitment," said Bryan Goluboff, who carried a sign with a big picture of his three daughters, ages 22 months to 8 years old. "This is a truly righteous issue."

Diana Britton contributed to this report.
comments powered by Disqus