Dispatches From The Picket Lines: SAG-AFTRA Solidarity March Goes From Netflix To Paramount As Part Of “Endless Union Summer”

As the SAG-AFTRA strike clocked its 62nd day, and the WGA’s 135th, the former held a massive solidarity march today from Netflix HQ on Van Ness Blvd to the Melrose gates of Paramount to juice guilds’ spirits with the entertainment industry work stoppage running past Labor Day.

Or as California Federation of Labor Executive Secretary Treasurer Lorena Gonzalez told those guild members who showed up today, “This is an endless union summer.”

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“We are not giving up because it’s September, we will not give up in October, we will not give up when the temperature goes down,” said Gonzalez to the crowd of around 4,000.

Attendees included SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher, National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, Secretary-Treasurer Joely Fisher, Los Angeles Local President Jodi Long, Los Angeles Local First Vice President Sheryl Lee Ralph, as well as such stars as Marvel thespian Clark Gregg, Frances Fisher, Timothy Simons, Joe LoTruglio, and Erin Hayes.

On an overcast late summer day that eventually turned sunny, the crowd marched to an endpoint in front of Paramount where a stage was set-up with a band playing covers of 1970s songs such as “Taking It to the Streets” (complete with Joely Fisher vocal accompaniment) and “I’ve Got the Music in Me” and “Boogie Oogie Oogie”.

In a morning full of speeches, newly re-elected SAG-AFTRA President Drescher was the headliner, saying to the crowd, “I know this strike is not easy, in fact it’s hard. It’s very hard and with the passing of time, it’s going to even get harder.”

“Your strength and your solidarity and resolve is going to get us to the other side of this and history is in the making right now,” she reminded the lively, protesting masses.

“But the reason why we had the largest strike authorization vote in our history is because we stand at an inflection point. We’re standing in front of this beautiful studio that I have worked at many times, but this growing greed of the conglomerate that keeps cannibalizing other business to become more and more powerful and more and more connected to Wall Street than they are to the very foundational contributors of the entire business model: All of you!,” The Nanny star and co-creator said.

“The collaborative art form — we’re losing the essence of the art form and it’s because of these top-tier highly greedy, self-absorbed executives that frankly are ruining it for everyone but themselves. So, what we need to do actually is to change the culture, that’s what this strike is about,” added Drescher.

“Ever since we went on strikes, strikes are happening all over the world,” she continued, “Every single  place on this earth, you look, people like us are standing up and saying ‘No more!’ because you know why? Because we said, ‘The emperor has no clothes!'”

“They have to do a major pivot, this is their opportunity to grow as human beings,” Drescher said about the studio congloms. “This is the hour of truth for everybody, but especially for them. Because they have to have the courage and the conviction to walk into their board rooms, and say ‘Ya know what we’re doing, this all wrong and this is unsustainable.”

“Hang in and don’t give up because this is the moment that will change the future. If we don’t’ start getting a piece of that pie, then what are we doing? We can start seeing a renaissance of independent films, independent movie theaters, new platforms for television. As Shakespeare said, ‘King falls’!”

Kal Penn and John Cho
Kal Penn and John Cho

Drescher also took fire at AMPTP hiring DC PR firm Levinson Group to prop up their image.

She was joined by Kal Penn in dinging the crisis PR firm. Penn became acquianted with them when he worked in conjunction with Barack Obama White House. Penn was joined on stage with his Harold & Kumar co-star John Cho.

“What you’re seeing now is people’s true colors showing. You’ve got studio executives and big corporations who love to tweet about equity. They love all the performative shit with pretending that they support us,” Penn screamed.

“The way you know we’re winning is when they hire a progressive DC PR firm, I’m looking at you Molly Levinson and the people who work for you, many who I’ve worked with at the White House and you’re on the wrong side of history. You know that the work that we’re doing with our incredible union leadership and our sibling unions is working if they’re taking steps like that,” Penn continued.

Cho yelled before stepping offstage, “We got the munchies for a fair deal!”

We also spoke with Drescher about her thoughts on the upcoming showrunners’ meeting with the WGA.

Meanwhile, close to 3K miles away in NYC, Mayor Erik Adams joined this morning’s SAG-AFTRA & WGA picket at 30 Rock.

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