Writers Guild Pickets Emerging in the South – May 15th Rallies & Strikes Called – Map Updating as We Learn Writers Guild Pickets Emerging in the South – AI Replacing Striking TV & Film Writers

On Tuesday, Kim Steele, a native of LA, member of the Actors Equity Association, who previously starred in the Broadway hit "Summer: Donna Summer's the Musical" was spotted outside of Warner Brothers Universal Atlanta's Office. Steele, a recent transplant from the heavily unionized, New York Broadway theater, marched by herself with a sign. (@HeyKimSteele/Twitter)


Greetings from the Burgh, where the air quality has been the worst in the nation, causing me asthma & Long Covid issues, but I am pushing on as the Buccos remain in the first place, and I am getting ready to leave to go to PNC Park.

Hilarious Gallery of Writers Guild Picket Photo

Putting out comedy writers on strike has led to hilarious tweets. 

Quickly go to the LA Times and check out the clever signs of the picketing that resonate with readers and activists nationwide. 

Writers Guild Pickets Emerging in the South (Writers Guild Strike Tracker Map)

With over 11,000 writers on strike, there are strikes in nearly every state. Payday has received reports of small picket lines of writers in places like North Carolina, Chicago, and Arizona. 

In Georgia, the state’s $4 billion-a-year growing anti-union and heavily taxpayer-subsidized anti-union industry has been dubbed “the Hollywood of the South,” where movies can be made much cheaper than in the “right-to-work” state and far more affordable than in film union base of support in LA. (Pinewood Atlanta Studios is the largest purpose-built studio outside Hollywood)

On Tuesday, a one-woman picket line by Broadway actress Kim Steele, a native of LA, member of the Actors Equity Association, who previously starred in the “Summer: Donna Summer’s the Musical” was spotted outside of Warner Brothers Universal Atlanta’s Office. Steele, a recent transplant from New York Broadway theater, marched by herself with a sign that “We Write, You Wrong”.

“Hollywood of the South – we out here!” tweeted Steele

(Check out her Twitter feed @heykimsteele for more updates from the battle at Warner Brothers in Atlanta and other labor battles)

May 15th Rallies & Strikes Called – Map Updating as We Learn. 

As Payday went to press, we learned that rallies supporting the Writers Guild strike are being planned in major cities nationwide on May 15. The largest demonstrations will be in NYC and LA but are expected to be in other unions. For more, check out Deadline. 

Check out the map here as we update it. 

AI Could Replace Striking TV & Film Writers Guild Members. 

In an interview with Payday Report, most observers expect the strike will last several years as both sides are very apart, with over 11,000 writers on strike. The Hollywood Studios association, the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTP), is refusing even to consider a proposal to regulate script writing being done by AI. 

The strike could escalate if the Directors’ Guild and other technicals Guild join in the fight. Part of the reason that the AMPTP is using AI to replace striking writers. Hollywood studios plan to use the strike to experiment with AI and ChatGPT to see if they can use it to generate scripts to publish after what is expected to be as several months of the strike. 

“This is existential for us,” writer Vinnie Wilhelm (Penny Dreadful: City of Angels) said as he picketed Netflix’s Hollywood offices told the Hollywood Reporter. “We need to have a seat at the table. You can easily see the job becoming polishing AI scripts. It fits neatly into what companies have been doing — turning everything they can into gig work.”

For more, check out the Hollywood Reporter.

Not Just Robots, but Real People Crossing Union Picket Lines 

It’s not just robots crossing the picket line in Hollywood, but regular people. The Hollywood Reporter has the story: 

“Agents are like, ‘Are you going to Cabo?!’ and we’re like, ‘Um, nope,'” relays one executive, who adds: “We no joke got 2,348,283,479 scripts dumped on us [Monday] night.”

Polling of other industry execs yields a series of similar responses, resulting in writers feverishly finishing scripts for new and ongoing projects to submit before the strike formally began Monday at midnight. “I have a backlog of scripts that everyone dumped,” echoes another executive, with a third noting, “I just got a million scripts.”

However, how those scripts are being handled seems to vary from company to company and, in certain cases, executive to executive. Some, for instance, are prepared to send notes back via email if they haven’t already; others are saving their notes for whenever the strike concludes. Thanks to clear strike rules on the subject, what’s universal is that nobody is doing note calls with writers the way they had only 36 hours earlier.

The Guild rules state in no uncertain terms: “You may not attend pitch meetings or communicate with a company representative to receive notes on literary material even if you intend to wait until the strike ends to make any requested changes.” The writers guild didn’t respond to a request to elaborate on the practice.

For more, check out the Hollywood Reporter. 

Donate to Help Avoid Predatory Interest Rates on a Laptop for a Labor Reporter

In early February, I needed to replace my old small desktop so that I could no longer travel anywhere. Struggling with Long Covid, as a self-employed, sometimes freelancing, crowdfunding reporter, I needed the Do-Re-Mi to make the purchase. 

Desperate to travel to cover Lula’s historic visit to the White House and with bad credit from years of freelancing, I took advantage of the predatory “Progressive Leasing’ program at Best Buy to buy an extremely lightweight MacBook Air. It’s great and great for editing audio for our podcast. It has a 15-hour battery, so great for 

Under the terms of the “Progressive Leasing Program” (which is anything but progressive), if I pay off the full cost of the laptop, $1068, I can avoid sky-high interest rates. 

However, if I don’t pay the terms, then I owe another $1000 in interest payments paid out over the next year.

Currently, I am $512 short of what I need to pay it off this week and pay off predatory interest rates. Please donate today so we can pay this early off and not owe another $1,000 in interest payments. 

Your collective donations of $512 will be used to help us continue to cover the strike of 11,000 TV and Film workers in the Writers Guild. 

We gotta run to PNC Park, but thanks again for all the support. Donate to help us cover 11,000 TV & Film Writers are on strike. 

About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter and alumni of the Guardian. In addition to filing nearly 2,000 stories from 46 states, Elk traveled with Lula from Sáo Bernando do Campos all the way to the Oval Office in the White House. Credited by the Washington Post for being the first reporter to track the strike wave systematically, Elk started Payday Report using his NLRB settlement from being illegally fired for union organizing in 2015. He lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh and works frequently in Rio de Janeiro, where he attended college at PUC-Rio. He speaks both Portuguese and Pittsburghese fluently. His email is [email protected]

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