Striking is a day in the park
EmptyFilming on "NowhereLand," a Paramount comedy starring Eddie Murphy, was halted for the day Thursday after WGA pickets arrived at the location shoot and the topliner went home.
The film had been shooting at a public park in Pacific Palisades, but filming was set to resume today at a soundstage location. Murphy is expected to be on the set.
As for whether the Palisades park scene will make it into the movie or get written out — and by whom — a studio spokeswoman declined comment.
In other developments on the 11th day of the WGA's work stoppage against studios, WGA West fleshed out its strike-related offerings on the guild Web site and included a message from WGAW president Patric Verrone aimed at bucking up the troops.
"You have stood up to the corporations and made it clear that we won't quit until we reach a fair deal," Verrone said.
He said that there was regular evidence of public support for the guild in its showdown with the studios.
"Yesterday, a middle-aged man who had come all the way from Michigan with his wife and children showed up at Paramount studios for the day," Verrone wrote. "But when he saw the writers, he told them he was a member of a mechanics union and has never crossed a picket line in his life."
Picketing continued Thursday at studio and network sites around Los Angeles.
Shifts have been set for 6 a.m.-2 p.m. daily at most sites. That's a change from shifts previously running 9 a.m.-1 p.m. and 1-5 p.m., with the earlier picketing aimed at stopping early-morning truck deliveries to production locations.
Today, picketing at all sites except NBC in Burbank and Universal Studios in nearby Universal City will be limited to 6-10 a.m. That's so members can converge on the Peacock site for an expected appearance by Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards in the early afternoon.
Pickets will be posted from 7 a.m.-5 p.m. at NBC. At Universal — where visiting fans of various NBC Uni-produced shows are expected to show up for a "fan day" at picket lines — pickets will be mounted from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
In New York on Thursday, Ron Howard joined "Saturday Night Live" regular Seth Meyers and some 130 other placard- and umbrella-wielding writers in a four-hour rally outside Viacom's Times Square offices.
Howard said it was "imperative" for members of the WGA, SAG and the DGA to share meaningfully in DVD and download revenue.
"The problem is even though it's hard to define what the downloading really means, on a fundamental level, it's going to start eroding the market for television residuals," said Howard, a member of all three guilds. "Both television residuals and DVD sales are things that creative union members really depend upon in order to sustain careers. The backbone of the industry — not the elite and not the fringe members — but the real backbone members need it."
Meyers, a head writer on "SNL" who has been on the picket lines every day since the strike began last week, said the media companies "seem very confident when they talk to their shareholders that everything is going to work out and then less so when they talk to us."
He added: "Everybody here wants to be in business with the producers and the networks. … We just want to make sure there's a (digital) compensation structure in place so we can have a part of that."
Protesters carried placards — with slogans that included "Be fair: A creative mind is a terrible thing to waste" and "We can't bear studio bull" — as drivers on rain-slicked streets honked their horns in support.
Eric Stangel, co-head writer of "Late Show With David Letterman," said a blog started by "Late Show" writers to get the word out about the strike — lateshowwritersonstrike.com — has quickly proved popular.
Gina Gionfriddo, a strike captain and writer for "Law & Order," said WGA members have shown dedication to their cause.
"They're coming out in what was this morning torrential rain," Gionfriddo said. "These actions show that our members really feel very strongly and are in it for the long haul. They want to go back to work now, but they're not going back to work without a fair deal."
TV writer-producer Tom Fontana and playwright-screenwriter Tony Kushner also were walking the picket line.
"It looked like a good day to picket," Howard joked. "I'll be out here the next time it rains."
Meanwhile, it was announced that New York-based shows "30 Rock" and "SNL" will give one-time-only live performances in Manhattan.
The casts of both shows will perform at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre on West 26th Street, with "SNL" doing its show at 11:30 p.m. Saturday and "30 Rock" going on at 8 p.m. Monday.
Proceeds from both shows — at $20 a ticket — will go to a WGA strike fund.
Production on both shows has stopped since the writers strike. "30 Rock" multihyphenate Tina Fey also has been a fixture on the picket line.
"Superbad" and "Arrested Development" star Michael Cera will be the guest host of "SNL," and Yo La Tengo is set as the musical guest.
Meanwhile, sources said that producers of the late-night shows, reps for the hosts or the hosts themselves have been communicating about how to return on the air soon. While they have been supporting their writers, the late-night hosts also are said to be loyal to their staffs, who would get laid off if the strike drags on. The hosts are said to be taking their cue from CBS' David Letterman, the doyen of the group and the only one who was on the air in 1988 when NBC's Johnny Carson was the first to return to the air during the writers strike.
Also Thursday, NBC confirmed that staff of its three late-night talk shows will be paid their full salaries through at least month's end. All three shows continue to be in repeats.
Separately, Worldwide Pants spokesman Steven Rubenstein said Thursday that next week's tapings of CBS' "Late Show With David Letterman" and "The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson" have been canceled, meaning the shows will be in repeats for a third week.
"We will continue to make a week-by-week determination about future tapings," Rubenstein said.
Carl DiOrio reported from Los Angeles; Gail Schiller reported from New York. Paul J. Gough in New York, Kimberly Nordyke and Nellie Andreeva in Los Angeles contributed to this report.