From Nuts to No. 2's: Joining the Virtual Picket Line

This was submitted by Rubberpoultry, a fan of Jericho and an advocate for writers -- and an amazing vidder.

Like just about anyone who’s grown up in western culture, I’ve been a fan of the television and movie industry since about the time that Bert and Ernie first taught me to count to 10. As I’ve gotten older, my viewing habits have gotten more sophisticated, to the point where now, effects, hype and all of the summer popcorn movie tactics have begun to matter much less and great writing is now the determining factor for what I watch on TV and at the theater - maybe that’s just part of growing up.

I’ve been a fan of serialized drama for some time and in 2006, I was more than interested when I saw the advertisements for the post apocalyptic drama, Jericho. Right from the beginning, the plot, characters, and story had me hooked. The writers had created a world that was full of uncertainty, full of mystery, and that was totally engaging. Early indicators were that it was going to be a hit, but the show went on a long hiatus, and never recovered its audience after the break.

The show’s second half found a maturity that didn’t seem possible with only a 12-episode history, and we fans loved what we were seeing. However, many of us weren’t being counted. After a gut wrenching season finale, CBS (looking at outdated Neilsen ratings) cancelled the show with no resolution to the story.

A now infamous campaign ensued, and my fellow fans and I bombarded CBS with nuts (a reference to a line in the finale), letters, videos, graphics, calls and other items of protest. In only 3 short weeks, we managed to change the mind of CBS, and they gave us 7 more episodes, and allowed our writers to keep telling the story.

As I reflected on what we did, and why we did it, it became crystal clear to me that this world we all thought was worth fighting for started in the hands of three very talented writers (Stephen Chbosky, Josh Schaer, and Jonathan E. Steinberg). It was further defined and refined by seven other writers who gave the show a real life/”what if” quality that drew us in week after week (much of it through new media outlets).

Good writing has the power to make you care. Good writing makes you think, it makes you feel, and as I’ve now experienced, it has the power to make you act. I’ve never been an active fan of any other television show beyond just tuning in on regular basis, but this show made me want to take on the networks. It made me want to invest time and money and artistic skills in the effort to revive it. And then came the writers’ strike.

When I was forwarded the link to “Why We Fight”, which creatively encapsulated the strike so well, I was angry. I knew at that moment I had to do something. I joined others in the Jericho fandom in sending pencils, promptly became involved with sites like www.fans4writers.com. I stopped watching online repeats, and I haven’t downloaded a show from itunes since November (a big change). I was no longer just pro-Jericho, I had become pro-writer, evangelizing to all of my friends and family about the injustice of the AMPTP. I even managed to create some videos and graphics featured here on United Hollywood, and United Hollywood Live.

Writers, while many of your fans have not been able to be physically present for the strike, we have joined with you in spirit. We’ve joined the virtual picket line and stand proudly with you as you fight this tough battle. You are the genesis of this industry, and you deserve everything your are asking for.

As rumors of a deal are looming, I wanted to say from the fan perspective, I hope you don’t settle for something that is anything less than you were hoping for.

This fight means too much, and you will not get a chance like this again to safeguard your/our (we fans are in this too) future. You have held out for too long to give in to something less than fair, or else, what was the point of the last several months?

I know that many fans are willing to happily give up new episodes of their favorite programs, online viewing and whatever else it takes until you get a fair deal. And when this thing is over, remember the affect you have on us. Your work is something that enriches our lives, and although throughout this strike you’ve even more aware of our presence, we are still there even if we are less visible. Stand strong WGA!



Geo Rule said...

Right on, my brotha. I'd like to think that this "new media" thing has been used against AMPTP fairly effectively this strike, to allow the writers to "feel our love", so to speak, in a more direct way than was possible in any prior strike. Which in turn allowed our support to be a significant factor in bulwarking their resolve and sapping the resolve of the AMPTP.

boadicea said...

So say we all.

Kevin said...

As another fan in the virtual picket line, I want to say thanks, RP, for articulating what so many of us feel.

Shadowfax220 said...

*Raises virtual picket sign*

Rubberpoultry, you have a much more eloquent way with words then I do.

I know how you feel about “Jericho” because that is exactly how I feel about “Supernatural”! Eric Kripke, Sera Gamble, Ben Edlund and the rest of the show’s writers have done for me what the writers of “Jericho” have done for you.

I wish that I could be right there at the picket lines with everyone. Unfortunately I haven’t found any picket lines here in Texas.

Instead I too have boycotted downloads, as well as reality television and I have not visited any television web sites since the strike started.I have promoted the strike and explained the issues to anyone who'll listen.

I also want the writers to get the best possible deal and not settle for something less then they want.

I support the writers 100% for all the laughter, the tears, the smiles and fears they have given me over the years. I support the imaginative people who are the backbone of the entertainment industry.

If the strike lasts another year *(though I hope it won’t)I will still support the writers!


LillyKat said...

A truly great post. Thanks to Rubberpoultry for putting it so eloquently on behalf of all the fans who are standing in solidarity with the writers.

Joe said...

I hope it's a fair deal. I'll be at the meeting on Saturday in NYC.

If it's not, I plan on speaking my mind about it at that meeting because I know the public and fans are going to still support us even if we stay out on strike.

The heat is on the AMPTP to give our leadership something worthwhile for our sacrifices, otherwise they will lose their Oscars, the rest of the TV season, the movie slate for 2009 and the fall TV season.

We're at a point of our highest leverage right now in my opinion. I really hope we're putting the screws to them.

If the deal sucks, let our leadership know it.

Don't let them walk out of the rooms on Saturday thinking "that went well" if the deal isn't worth it.

None of us need to go out on strike again in 3 years.

I'm cautiously optimistic that it's going to be a good deal though.

That's all I can be.

I want and need to get back to work, but I also want and need to know that this strike was worth it.

After writing all my checks for Feb. bills and looking at my shrinking bank account, I really need to know it was worth it.

Ilike2think said...

RP, Thank you! I am not as good at expressing myself as you are but I too have a show I loved and fought for that the greedy suits took away from me and so many others because it was too expensive. I looked forward to Studio 60 every week and was devastated that we could not save it.

I echo the sentiments of all who have posted before me. Writers, we are with you. For as long as it takes. Get a fair deal and nothing less. We can wait.

I fervently hope that when this is over the writers will continue to use this medium to take the power out of the hands of the big 6 and give it directly to the people. The writers are proud of what they do and care if they give their customers something they will love.

In support...Ilike2think.

Carrie said...

What a beautifully written piece. I often wonder if the writers know that the fans do back them up and that we dO support them, even if we aren't able to make our presence known on the picket lines. I will continue to do my part by not downloading or ituning.

Stay strong, and here's hoping you have a fair and just reason to put down those picket signs soon!

rubberpoultry said...

ilike2think... Studio 60 was a regular for me too. I really loved that show, and wish it would have gotten another season. I'll miss that one.

I didn't put it in the article, but Jericho starts on Feb 12, 10:00 ET/PT on CBS. If you've never caught it, you should check it out.


Four Cent said...

To all calm, rational WGA members out there who have stood firm and supported this strike from the beginning- but aren't hell bent on shouting down this deal before we've even heard it: be there Saturday. You have to. It's a bit worrying how many people out there seem to have got themselves to a point where any deal other than 100% of what we've been asking for will be immediately deemed 'shitty' and rejected out of hand. The rest of us must make our voices heard too. See you there.

Maryanne said...

Well said.

As part of the virtual picket line, it's been inspiring seeing WGA support icons, sig-lines, and banners popping up all over the internet.

My own icon has been WGA-ified since Nov1, and I am constantly getting supportive comments about it.

The fans are with you, WGA.

Ilike2think said...

RP, I have watched every episode and do support Jerico. I will be watching on Feb 12th

Pat said...

RP, What you said x 2! The only shows that are worth my time have to make me think, laugh and feel. That starts with good writing. An actor cannot emote a blank page no matter his/her talent.

I love to read and I will do more reading, before I will settle for unREALITY shows. So writers, write a Jericho book!

Omnie said...

RP, I couldn't agree with you more. Well said. I know before and after the strike I will continue to support the writers. This is why I am so happy to see the future of UH continue long after the strike. In fact, I have found many TV shows by looking at what other shows the writers have done.

QuoterGal said...

Thanks for sayin', RubberPoultry - and you are my favorite Grand Meister Photoshopper, as well.

I'm a book person from wayback, and have loved my authors since I was a kid, and as a big ol' Golden Era Hollywood nut, I have also tracked screenwriters, from Ben Hecht up to Charlie Kaufman.

But it took Joss Whedon's Buffy to make me start appreciating and paying attention to who wrote TV shows - because it was probably the first TV show that made me understand it was very well-written art.

Since then, I have come to appreciate television in a different way, and have found much I admire in shows like Firefly, West Wing, Battlestar Galactica, Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls, The Office, Veronica Mars and a few others.

And as a long time political activist and labor advocate, it didn't take much education about the strike for me to see how important this effort is. It's been significant in a lot of ways, but one of them has been drawing a line for big corporations and saying, "You have to let us share more fairly in the fruits of our labors. You can't keep taking stuff away. And It's time to stand up and work to push back the major inroads on worker rights and benefits made in the last 20-30 years."

Your struggle has been my struggle because we are connected in ways not immediately obvious to the public at first glance. You're working folks - no matter what you make, what work you do and how it's paid to you - and we really have to stand together. (And as a graphic artist, I too am accustomed to hearing people people tell me what I do for a living is "play" or "not a real job.")

Yeah, I want good films to be written again, and I want my TV shows back - Joss was just about to start work on a new one, Dollhouse, and I'd been loving Bryan Fuller's Pushing Daisies and waiting patiently for more of Ron Moore's BSG. But I'm willing to wait until I can watch them knowing you'all are getting a bigger piece of their profits.

I hope this deal is a great deal, and one the WGA can accept. But if it isn't, I'll still be there to help however I can.

"Morality, like art, means drawing a line someplace." - Oscar Wilde

Mandie said...

RubberPoultry, my Midwestern brother--
You have literally taken the words out of my mouth, or should I say, taken them from my fingers.

I have been a die-hard fan of many shows of a variety of genres, from Grey's Anatomy to Charmed to CSI and many more too numerous to mention.

I will be completely honest, when the strike initially started, I paid it no attention. About 2 weeks into it, I realized that this meant I wasn't going to be able to watch my favorite shows and I was angry. So angry, in fact, that I was moved to the net.

It didn't take me long to realize that my anger was misplaced, however. I became immediately immersed into what the strike really stood for and what it meant to the writers and to the future writers out there. I became enraged at the blatant lies and propaganda put out by the studios and immediately changed my icons on myspace, facebook and the signature graphics on various boards I frequent to a picket sign to show my support.

Tonight, I was visiting with my parents and they had CSI: NY on and I happened to look up during the opening credits and I saw Trey's name. I immediately realized how prior to the strike, I never paid much attention to the credits of my favorite shows. I realized that thanks to the strike, I would no longer let my eyes glaze over the credits as they roll. I had been educated to the passion, the dedication and the struggles of the faces and the people behind "the annoying credits" (as I called them previously). Trey and Eric (and the other writers out there), I know you read these comments, I'm sorry I complained about your credits :-D

I have spent hours educating people about what the strike really means and why we should support it, even if we are thousands of miles away from Hollywood or New York.

Regardless of our location, we've all seen a tv show or been lost in the 90 minutes of a movie. Where else but a movie theater can you find yourselves crying with complete strangers, laughing a moment later and applauding as the credits role? What else but tv connects millions of people from various backgrounds all across the country for that same hour. No one has lived a life untouched by the work of a writer.

The writers fight is everyones fight, even the fans.

Thank you RP for putting this out there.
(aka Mandie)

starlace said...

Beautifully said RP!

Jericho was the first show that made me an 'active' fan also. Quality writing is what keeps viewers coming back week after week, what touches their hearts and their minds and keeps them fascinated week after week, year after year.

I, too, hope the WGA doesn't settle for anything less than they deserve. This fight is too important and everything they've asked for is beyond reasonable.

And as a college student, they're fighting for my future and that of my friends. Good writing doesn't only entertain, it inspires future writers, actors, producers, directors, etc, to pursue their dreams. As a fan and student, I couldn't be more grateful and I know I stand in with the rest of the fans out there who will support the WGA until they get a fair deal. Their fight is our fight and we're behind them until the end.


Geo Rule said...

Another Studio 60 guy here. . .wouldn't that have been awesome to have 1/2 a season of Sorkin sticking pins in AMPTP this year? You know it would have happened. . . it was after all a show about showrunners. . .

"Let's gid rid of demented Santa Claus!"

Skyfleur said...

RP, beautifully said. You're a genius at photoshop and videoshop (this does not exist but it should :D) but you're also able to be very articulate in your support much more than a lot of us !

The point is what you said is applicable to any good written show. Since I take care of a website where we input writers, directors etc, I have paid attention to credits for like 4 years. I know the importance of who writes and an episode where we know the writer is such may get more buzz than let's say an episode written by a new comer.

Anyways, all we want is a fair deal, may be not all that the writers asked for but something much better than what the DGA got or what is being leaked aboutthis agreement in the press. I hope the writers will be strong enough to say Nay in the meetings if it not a fair deal. Despite everything, we are the consumer, our interests and needs are nothing compared to theirs. We need them to keep strong and continue on fighting even though it cost a lot to the writers, directors, actors and especially the Below the lines.

We are behind you !! Don't accept a deal selling your house, mother, children and grandmother just for the sake of getting this over with.

Go WGA !

Becca said...

Well said Rubber Poultry!

I joined the writers of my favorite show, The Unit back in Dec on the picket line at CBS TV City. I flew all the way from Ft Lauderdale to do it. Why? To show my solidarity, to let them know their fans care, to be the spokesperson for so many who could not be there.

Let me tell you, once you meet your writers, the strike takes on a very personal tone. Their fight is my fight. When someone posts something negative about the writers, I feel the hurt. My moxie flares up and I've taken on Goliath, whether he be the AMPTP, or some other whining person.

My TV hasn't been on since Nov 7 when I read Shawn Ryan's letter to the other showrunners. I haven't been to a movie. I don't download movies or TV shows. I won't watch an episode of The Unit on CBS until you get the deal you deserve and want.

I've been told I can be as subtle as a freight train barreling down the tracks when I want to make a point. So I've begged, pleaded and posted on other show message boards to not watch one missed episode on the network's or any other download site. I've driven my freight train right down their throats.

Unit fans feel just as strongly and are just as loyal about our show as any other fan of a show. We heard about the seed campaign and our own Yellow Ribbon Campaign has begun.

For Shawn, Randy, Dan and Dan, whatever your decision is about this possible agreement, yah or nay, we will STILL stand beside you hoisting our virtual picket signs. We're *your* fans. And we're all on the freight train.

Pamela Jaye said...

>RP, Thank you! I am not as good at expressing myself as you are but I too have a show I loved and fought for that the greedy suits took away from me and so many others because it was too expensive.

I too have done this for a show (it wasn't a show I dearly loved, but it starred an actor that I did.)
Probably about the same time I started having my name in the credits myself (on public access cable) I started geetinginto the credits on TV (except for Zucker Brothers movies, where I learned to read credits in the 80's).
Whenever I see something awesome on TV my first question is Who wrote this? (well after "where have I seen him/her before - but I don't know it's awesome till I've seen a bit of it) and sometimes even before... I tend to watch for writing credits on some show before they are even up.

I used to hang on the Grey's Writers' blog and kind of "got to know" these people who create these worlds for me to spend time in and characters that feel like old friends.

And hey, RP, aren't you supposed to be out proseltyzing Jericho? I read what CBS said when they picked it up. Great piece though. Thanks for showing support (i'm missing an adjective here)

I'm not a writer and don't ever want to be, but all my favorite writers - David E Kelly, Shonda, Joss, Jane E, Krista Vernoff - are TV writers (except for the Zucker Brothers, who got cancelled in 6 weeks cause apparently people don't "watch" TV and missed all the jokes)
oh and Aaron. he can be good too. :-)

gotta run. we love you writers. stay strong. without you there's nothing to sell.

Scott Goodwin said...

As a more silent fan, I agree wholeheartedly. We appreciate everything you do, whether it's writing the memorable lines or walking the picket lines.

And as someone who works in interactive marketing, I find the 14-day free streaming window proposal ridiculous. It's like the corporations are asking you to give up any revenue from the time period it's most valuable to advertisers.

Don't settle for a bad deal just to get the deal done.

Pat said...

Hey RP,

All anyone has to do to see what a good writer can do, is take a look at the NUTS! Campaign. Writers inspired thousands of NUTS to protest and make history.

Watch Jericho, if you want an example of good writing + good acting = PASSION!


kystorms said...

I support our writers and I support those who support them. This goes beyond the writers to every profession that supports in some way the writers of every show.
So, I too am in the virtual picket line, and will stay there until our writers are shown the respect they deserve in this matter.

Claire said...

Well said, Rubberpoultry.

I've been moved by this struggle too. I live too far away to join the picket lines (which I totally would), but I've blogged about the strike several times to raise awareness, added several strike support sites to my blog, followed it closely on UH and DHD, and sent a strike care package to a writer.

WGA, stay strong! I'm happy to wait until you get a fair deal.

electricspacegirl said...

Another Fans4Writers member here. Just wanted to chime in here as another virtual picketer.

To the writers: I too don't want you to accept a deal that isn't the one you've been after. Please stay strong. I, and the 100+ other fans I talk to every week, want you to get a deal that will work for you, and work for the future of the guild. And also, thank you for all your hard work, both before the strike began, and after.

Before I go, I must add that I was delighted to be able to go down to L.A. (I live in Portland, the Oregon one) in December and walk the line with some of my favorite writers ever on Mutant Enemy Day. Not only was I geeking out over walking the line alongside one of my personal heroes Jane Espenson, but I also got to show my support in person, which I felt was really important.

As fans, not only are your shows and movies important to us, but your livelihood is too. As an aspiring writer myself, I hope for a prosperous future for the writers in this industry. I know your decision in this coming week is crucial to making that future a reality.

In solidarity.

Jessica said...

Thank you for so eloquently expressing what the WGA supports feel and have felt throughout the strike. You deserve an "ALL HAIL." ;)

I LOVE Jericho too and can't wait until Feb. 12th!