Wisteria Lane converted to writers' block


A standoff on Wisteria Lane, a day off at Dunder Mifflin, two-week notices at the late-night shows and a winter edition of "Big Brother" are among the top TV-related headlines from Day 2 of the writers strike.

Picketing writers targeted a Toluca Lake neighborhood Tuesday morning, disrupting a location shoot for ABC's "Desperate Housewives" that featured star Eva Longoria Parker. More than 30 picketers, including Julia Louis-Dreyfus, managed to stop production outside the home at the corner of Toluca Lake and Clybourn avenues.

Filming inside continued as scheduled. Portions of the dialogue affected by the noise outside are expected to be looped in postproduction. Many on the production side raised their hands in support and at times appeared to encourage the striking writers and their supporters to yell louder. The picketers were creative in their chants, yelling, "Marcia's cross, and so are we!" "Unfair. Unjust. Marc Cherry is with us!" ("Desperate" creator/executive producer Marc Cherry, a member of the WGA negotiating committee, walked the picket line Monday.)

During her break around 1 p.m., Longoria Parker went outside, walked through the crowd and climbed onto a pizza delivery truck to hand out pizzas to the strikers.

"We are done, and we'll be on the lines supporting you," she told them. ("Desperate" will wrap production today on the episode, the last with a finished script to be shot before the end of the strike.)

"Desperate" is the second series to have a location shoot disrupted. CBS' "Cane" had to move locations Monday.

While the neighborhood was clogged with news vans, police officers, picketers and production trucks and crews, neighbors didn't seem to mind. "They film at that house all the time, and it's kind of a nuisance to the neighborhood," resident Susan Rubin said as she waved at her neighbor walking the picket line. "It's nice for it to be interrupted."

The neighborhood, Rubin said, is very industry. Steve Carell recently bought a house around the corner. "It's kind of exciting," she said. "It's democracy and freedom in our neighborhood."

Speaking of Carell, he didn't show up for work on his hit NBC comedy "The Office" for a second consecutive day Tuesday.

Co-star Rainn Wilson again called in sick, while B.J. Novak and Mindy Kaling, who also are writers on the show, continue to strike.

On Monday, "Office" shot only two scenes, with major leads Carell and Wilson out, as well as Novak and Kaling. On Tuesday, production was shut down for the day, sources said.

On the East Coast, another actor-writer, "30 Rock" creator-executive producer Tina Fey, reportedly went to work Tuesday to fulfill her acting duties on the show after picketing Monday at Rockefeller Plaza.

Staffers on NBC's "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" — 70-100 people — were notified Tuesday that if the strike continues, they will be let go as of Nov. 19. Sources said similar two-week notices went out to workers on other late-night shows.

Writers assistants on primetime series are expected to get pink slips shortly.

With the strike a reality, the broadcast networks are beginning to trigger their contingency plans, which include ordering more unscripted programming.

As expected, CBS is readying its summer reality show "Big Brother" for a return in the winter (HR 11/1).

The network has been quietly casting for the past few weeks, now that the show is staffing for a possible February launch in case of a long strike. "Brother" can provide three or more hours of programming a week.

In other strike-related news, Ellen DeGeneres was back on the set of her daytime talk show Tuesday after skipping Monday's taping to show support for her writers.

"I love my writers," she said during the taping Tuesday. "In honor of them today, I'm not going to do a monologue. I support them and hope that they get everything they're asking for. … In the meantime, people have traveled across the country. … I want to do everything I can to make your trip enjoyable and give you a show."

On the picket front, the casts of CBS' "The Big Bang Theory" and NBC's "ER" walked the lines Tuesday, as did Jeff Garlin and SAG board member Valerie Harper.

"Big Bang" is one of several multicamera series that shut down this week because their production involves active involvement by writers; others include CBS' "Two and a Half Men," "Rules of Engagement" and "The New Adventures of Old Christine" and Fox's " 'Til Death" and "Back to You."

The other comedy and drama series are still filming, though all are expected to halt production within a week or two as they run out of scripts. ABC's "Carpoolers" wraps today.

Kimberly Nordyke contributed to this report.