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Rambo: Show Up, Sign In And Walk With The 'CSI' Writers

By Rachel
November 14, 2007 - 11:35 PM

As the Writers Guild of America (WGA) continues to strike, fans get a chance to participate.

"The CSI fans have been the greatest since the WGA strike began," David Rambo said in an e-mail. "The writers and cast want to thank you for the food, the good wishes and all your expressions of encouragement." Rambo went on to say that the fans can show further support by walking the picket line with the CSI writers this Friday, November 16 from 10:00am until 2:00pm. Fans who are in the Los Angeles area can meet at Universal Studios Gate #2 on Lankershim Blvd. "All you have to do is show up, sign in, and walk with the CSI writers," Rambo said. Due to extremely limited parking, he suggested that fans carpool or take the Metro to the Universal stop. "Other shows are inviting their fans this day as well," he continued, "and it would be great to have a nice turnout for CSI."

Yesterday, stars from various popular television shows joined the writers in the first "Picketing with the Stars" rally. Organized by showrunners (and WGA negotiating committee members) Carol Mendelsohn (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation) and Marc Cherry (Desperate Housewives), the event was meant to maximize news coverage for the strike by having a large number of celebrities in one place at one time. The actors and actresses from the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) gathered to show their support for the WGA.

Trey Callaway, a writer for CSI: New York, spoke about the long-term repercussions of the strike while walking the picket line in front of NBC studios in Burbank. "This battle is as much about the writers that come after us, [as it is about] ourselves," he explained. "We are trying to ensure the next generation of writers are protected." In order to protect the next generation of writers, the WGA is trying to get residuals from the next generation of media: the Internet. Writer/director Eric Swelstad spoke to Valley Star Online about what the WGA is asking for regarding internet-based media such as digital downloads, cell phones and sites like iTunes. "We want them to use the same formula used for repeats on television," he said. "There is a scale already in place for that, but producers say downloads are an untested market, just like they did when home videos came out. Now they want 5 or 6 years before they decide on residuals, but they brag to their share holders in New York about the millions they are making off downloads."

Both the WGA and the The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) are digging in their heels on their respective sides of the issue, and it looks as though the strike could go on for months before a new contract is decided upon. "We know that we're in it for a long haul and that it's going to get tougher," said WGA member Jack Kenny from the picket line at Paramount. "But this is our last chance to get residuals for work on the Internet. If we don't do it now, they'll never give it to us." The AMPTP's lead negotiator, Nick Counter, accused the WGA of blacklisting members for crossing the picket lines. With the WGA and AMPTP going back and forth, neither one is approaching a negotiating table. Both sides asked to speak to California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, but since union matters are regulated by the federal government, his involvement is no indication that an agreement will be made. Schwarzenegger's spokesman Aaron McLear said that the governor was "trying to get a read on" the issues when he spoke to the WGA on Monday and the AMPTP on Tuesday. "There is really not a role for the state, as far as we can tell," McLear said. "This is really in the federal jurisdiction. To the extent that (Schwarzenegger) can get involved, he is doing anything he can do."

With the WGA strike in full swing, the Television Critics Association is hitting a snag as well. NBC has already chosen to pull out of the January TCA press tour, and other networks might follow suit. The TCA press tours allow major networks the chance to do interviews and panels about their upcoming programming in front of approximately 200 American and Canadian journalists and columnists. According to TCA president Dave Walker, the networks "expressed concerns about staging adequate presentations if the strike continues, but didn't rule out participation. They said they'd like to present but aren't sure what shows or people they'll have available." An NBC spokesperson said that it was a difficult decision to pull out of the tour but that the network felt that it was not sound financial move at this time. A daylong TCA presentation can cost approximately $500,000 according to a network insider. Some networks are considering the idea of a "virtual TCA" with online webcasts. Despite the diminished winter press tour, network executives said that the summer press tour in July will not be affected. The summer tour has higher attendance and is considered more important for marketing strategies.

The information about "Picketing with the Stars" came from the Edmonton Sun. Further discussion of the strike can be found at Valley Star Online and Variety. Variety also has information about how the strike will affect the TCA tour.

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