Writers on the Line

On the Line
Tendu on the Line, CSI Day, and New Picketing Schedule
Brittani Nichols and Justin Halpern break down the summer schedule, Children of Tendu go live at Disney, and a CSI reunion
Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Picketing Schedule Update

Warner Bros. Lot Coordinator Brittani Nichols and WGAW Board Member Justin Halpern break it down for you in this video.

Check out the video.

As of June 26, 2023:
Monday – Thursday:  9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Shifts: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. and 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Friday: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Shifts: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. and 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
On Monday, July 3 and Tuesday, July 4, picketing will be suspended for the Independence Day holiday.
Special pickets already scheduled through Friday June 30 will proceed as planned.

Podcast on the Line

Children of Tendu podcast hosts Jose Molina, Javier Grillo-Marxuach and podcast guest Allison Intrieri at Disney. 

A few things you should know about the Children of Tendu podcast hosted by longtime WGAW members Jose Molina and Javier Grillo-Marxuach:

First, like the podcast they have been hosting for nine years, the two longtime friends are rarely serious.

Second, witty though they most certainly are, Molina and Grillo-Marxuach are quite serious about helping their fellow Guild members navigate the industry. 

Third, after a work-caused sabbatical, they are back tendu-ing new episodes of their podcast and, for the time being at least, hosting it from the picket lines.

“We were both working up until the deadline, and when we had to put our pencils down, we were like, ‘No time like the present to start recording and releasing episodes again,’” said Molina sitting with Grillo-Marxuach at a small folding table on the grass at Riverside and Keystone at Disney. “Then last night, Javi had this idea that we could do a little lemonade stand/therapy stand and talk to people on the lines and see what was on everybody’s mind.”

“We developed a pretty healthy following,” added Grillo-Marxuach, “so we’re hoping people will want to sit with us and tell us their troubles.”

The podcast was already pretty free-form. Episodes typically go for 30 minutes, but they can be longer. The pair once fielded questions during a four-hour car-ride to Las Vegas. The podcast is famous for having what Grillo-Marxuach boasts to be the worst sound quality of any podcast ever.

“Our whole thing is we do this thing because we like it, because it’s fun, and because people seem to think we have something to contribute,” said Grillo-Marxuach. “Maybe we’ll become a fixture on the picket lines. Maybe we’ll vanish like a southwest wind.”

The two hosts, both of whom are of Puerto Rican descent, have been friends from their early years as writers. They have worked together and separately as writers and producers on such series as Legacies, Sleepy Hollow, Lost, The Middleman, and The Tick.

Nine years ago while they were socializing, the two drew up a list of people they had worked with who they felt were good to work with and another list of people who were...well...not so nice. One of the lists was considerably longer than the other, and the idea for the podcast was born.  

“Basically once somebody gets big, you can’t change them, but you can get them young,” said Grillo-Marxuach.  “So we have kind of focused a lot of our efforts outside of our writing practice on mentorship and teaching. This really is just our effort to try to not only give away our knowledge for free, which is humongously important to us, but also to try to give an entire generation of people the message of, ‘don’t be a dick.’"

“That about covers it,” agreed Molina.

During their picket podcasts, the Children of Tendu hosts will be asking guests to tell their stories. As members talk about how they got certain jobs, their stories will illustrate issues that the Guild is striking over. Molina and Grillo-Marxuach admit that they entered the business at a time when it was easier to make a living.

“If you got traction, you would work for years, whereas now, even if you get on a show and do really well, maybe you’re there only for six months,” said Grillo-Marxuach. "We’re trying to really kind of get people to tell us how the current climate is really difficult and makes it difficult to make a living as a writer.”

“We always feel like we have as much to learn as we have to impart,” added Molina, "and so I think this being on the front lines today is a good way for us to get stories from people that we may not know, and get perspectives that we may not have heard from.”

See Photos from Monday's Picket Lines

Cue The Who: CSI Day at Paramount

(L-R) WGAW member and actress Liz Vassey, actress Kari Nicolle, actress Marg Helgenberger, and original CSI writer-producer David Rambo at the CSI Day picket at Paramount.  

Last week's CSI Day picket at Paramount drew a strong turnout of cast and crew. 
CSI: Miami writers Tamara Jaron and Krystal Houghton Ziv got the idea to unite writers from all five CSI shows together on the strike lines. Point people from each of the other shows including Deanna Shumaker (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation), Trey Callaway (CSI: NY), Carly Soteras (CSI: Cyber) and Jason Tracey (CSI: Vegas) joined Jaron and Ziv on the case. They quickly got the message out to their former (and in the case of CSI: Vegas, current) writing staffs.

According to picket organizers, many of the things that the WGA is asking for in this negotiation are conditions that writers who came up in the CSI franchise worked under, including a large number of guaranteed weeks, experience going to set and post, and healthy residuals. Several of the picket organizers got their first writing credits on these shows and many of the writers present at the picket graduated from assistant to writer during their time working in the franchise. The CSI franchise provided a healthy pipeline for incoming talent, something that's often missing in the short-order streaming model.

The event included a visit from the Yeastie Boys Bagels truck, donated by producer and franchise creator Anthony Zuiker, along with showrunners Ann Donahue and Carol Mendelsohn.

Why We Strike

Throughout this negotiating cycle, writers have been speaking up about our personal experiences working over the past several years. These stories highlight precisely why we are on strike and why our proposals are so critical to the future of this profession.

"In 2022 I made two shows for two different streaming services. Both were 8-episode straight to series orders. In both cases a writers' room was hired for a finite number of frustratingly negotiated weeks that ended before production started. I was told there was not enough room in the budget of these $3- and $5-million-dollar-an-episode shows to pay a writing staff for the time needed to do our work. To make fewer episodes does not mean the process changes and writing suddenly ceases to exist the whole way through."

Read the full story here.