Here, Queer, and Not Going Anywhere
To kickoff Pride month, WGAW's LGBTQ+ Writers Committee hosted a pride picket at Warner Brothers on Thursday. As rainbow flags and pride-themed signs soared through the air, hundreds of LGBTQ+ writers and allies came together to dance, sing, and strut their best pride outfits.
“There are a lot of queer folk in the Guild,” said Spiro Skentzos, an LGBTQ+ Committee Co-Chair who helped plan the event. “We have grown the committee close to 300 people.”
Some of the biggest supporters of the event were TV fans. The fandom from Our Flag Means Death, a Max comedy series featuring significant LGBTQ+ representation, came to the line in support.
“We think it’s really meaningful to writers, and to the fans who like the writing, to come together and show the studios that we are here in solidarity,” Skentzos said.
The fandom donated food from the Mediterranean food truck Chicaterranean, as well as ice cream from Coolhaus, an LGBTQ+-owned business dedicated to celebrating queer joy.
“In this community, you can be transparent about who you are and who you love,” Coolhaus Co-owner Natasha Case said in a recent pride post. “We encourage you to accomplish amazing things that bring folks together.”
The best part of any pride event is the dancing, and there was no shortage of that. Some 30 minutes into the event, picketers were calling the picket “Club Warner Brothers” as they swayed in unison to the rhythms of Whitney and Cher.
TV writer Victor Dueńas MC’d the afternoon, creating a passionate, fun-loving environment for folks to dance and celebrate their community.
“This is bringing together everything I love, which is being a writer, being a creator, being queer, and being able to express myself,” Dueńas said. “That’s why we are here today, to let everybody know that we matter. The studios should know that we matter.”
Biking the Strike: From Sony to CBS Radford
Screenwriter and longtime WGAW member Shem Bitterman hatched the plan to cover all ten L.A. picket sites in a single day by bicycle.
The reason he decided to gather a group to bike the strike?
“I like that it rhymes,” said Bitterman. “It seemed like a natural fit.”
Yuks aside, he has other reasons. Bitterman maintains a strong interest in urban design, multi-modality,and active transportation. Anything that gets people out of their vehicles and onto their bikes instead is, to his mind, a good thing.
But Bitterman and the more than 12 people who joined him for the 27-mile ride from picket to picket also want to send a collective message.
“Let’s get fair pay for writers. Let’s honor writers,” said Bitterman, speaking Thursday morning at the Sony Pictures lot before the ride kicked off. “Let’s honor human ingenuity and human power, not AI power. Let’s power ourselves around the city. We don’t need a computer to do it and we don’t need a corporate executive to tell us that we can.”
The bikers started at Sony and proceeded to Amazon and from Amazon to Fox. Next stop: CBS Television City, then on to Paramount and Netflix, then around Griffith Park, following the L.A. River Trail and ending up at Disney. The group planned to grab lunch at Bob’s Big Boy before continuing their ride to Warner Bros., then Universal and concluding at CBS Radford. Bitterman expected the group to maintain a pace of about nine miles per hour. The strike bikers planned to sign in and take photos with the WGAW staff at each location.
“I think 27 miles isn’t so bad,” said Bitterman. “This is a ride that you don’t need a lot of exercise prowess to be able to do. Anybody who is relatively healthy can get on a bike and ride 27 miles at that pace, I think. There are no hills, and that’s by design.”
Bitterman shared ride organizing duties with Taylor Nichols, an actor and SAG-AFTRA member with whom he frequently works on the Mid-City West Neighborhood Council.
I’m a supporter of the strike. I think the only way we can save the middle class in the entertainment industry is if SAG, the DGA and the WGA join together and fight for a living wage,” said Nichols.
In keeping with the spirit of levity within the Bike the Strike writers, writer-producer Steve Kriozere noted that by successfully completing the ride, the bikers could establish their mettle and “prove to the producers that we’re not a bunch of slobs.”
“Maybe we should say that at the end of the ride, not the beginning,” said Bitterman.
Getting Gerwig-gy with It at Fox
A cool lot needs an equally cool themed picket as well as a crowd of people embracing the vibe. The Fox Studios lot got all that and then some Thursday.
“We’ve kind of wanted to do more themes, to experiment more,” said morning lot coordinator Tyler Ruggeri.
“I feel like people don’t know we’re a cool lot,” agreed Olga Lexell, who shares morning lot coordinating duties with Ruggeri. “Everyone thinks Netflix is the sexy lot. We wanted to prove that we can also be the sexy lot.”
Step one in the amplify Fox's sexiness quest: a celebration of actor-screenwriter-director and WGAE member Greta Gerwig that encouraged visitors to dress up as their favorite characters from Gerwig’s movies (including Little Women, Ladybird and the upcoming Barbie).
Adding to the sea of Barbie pink Thursday was a reunion visit from the show Modern Family whose writers gathered in Rancho Park and then came to walk the picket lines at Fox–where the show filmed–in solidarity with WGA writers
To top off the day, lunch arrived courtesy of actress Jennifer Garner, who arrived with pizza. Garner saluted the writers from different TV shows in her career, from her first series in L.A, Significant Others in 1998, to Alias to the current series The Last Thing He Told Me.
“I’m here in support of the writers,” Garner said. “We’d be nothing without them.”