As one of the reality TV royals crossed the line, striking film and TV screenwriters joined forces in New York on Wednesday with another group of culture workers embroiled in a dispute salary: musicians.
As a five-piece band played brass and percussion music, members of the Writers Guild of America, in their fifth week on strike, joined in solidarity with musicians, music industry workers and their followers in Midtown Manhattan.
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Their meeting point on the sidewalk was outside the headquarters of Penske Media Corporation, owner of Austin-set South by Southwest aka SXSW. The conference is criticized for the way it compensates the groups. (PMC also owns Deadline and other media and culture-focused publications, including rolling stone And Billboard.)
The musicians returned the gesture as they joined the writers at another rally Wednesday afternoon outside Paramount Global headquarters.
Outside of Paramount, a queen of stage and screen was in line. Here’s why SAG-AFTRA member Alfre Woodard supports striking writers:
Earlier today, WGA strike captain Warren Leight called out a Kim Kardashian for crossing the picket line for Ryan Murphy. american horror story.
“Sad to announce that Kim Kardashian crossed our picket line downtown today,” the former said. Processing the showrunner tweeted. “Drove us past a freight elevator in his chauffeured Escalade. The writers do not follow, but Kim Krossed Our Line.
Light tweeted a poignant clarification later: “Again: Working actors are required to cross our lines until their contract ends on June 30. It’s not a scab,” he wrote. “Many agonize over it, walk with us on other days, send statements of support. She carries more weight than others in her position. She didn’t use it.
A seemingly unblushing Kardashian, for her part, posted this photo to her Instagram story today:
With support from the WGA on Wednesday, the previous protest outside Penske headquarters drew more than 100 marchers. Their wrath was the business model of SXSW, the potentially career-building music industry confab, artist showcase and media festival that draws thousands of band members, solo artists and other attendees to Austin every March.
Demanding better pay for bands performing at the Texas festival, members of two actors’ unions, SAG-AFTRA and Broadway’s Actors’ Equity Association. Also in attendance were union musicians from New York in the American Federation of Musicians Local 802.
The message for SXSW, as summarized by a speaker on Wednesday, was simple: “Pay your [expletive] groups,” said Sajeev Rau, who belongs to a newly certified union for workers at a group of independent record companies. Protesters say SXSW is making millions of dollars a year on a music event that pays real musicians a pittance.
SXSW 2023, which featured more than 1,500 group or solo artists in mid-March, offered each group or solo artist who was booked to play one of SXSW’s coveted showcases a choice of allocation – $250 per group or $100 per solo artist – or wristband ID for free access to festival events. It’s a deal that hasn’t changed in over a decade, as the application fee for festival slots has risen from $40 to $55, the Austin American Statesman released in February.
Representatives for Penske and SXSW did not respond to Deadline’s requests for comment.
WGA member, comedian and writer Sasha Stewart, echoed a recurring theme on Wednesday that writers and musicians are in this fight together.
“So when we heard that musicians who make millions of SXSW dollars every year are only paid with a wristband or $100, we were shocked and outraged but not surprised,” Stewart said. “Corporate media like Penske and TV movie studios will always demand the most from artists while paying the least possible.”
Another MWA member, Phillip Golub, said striking writers who stood up for musicians in their labor struggles were “incredibly powerful” to him.
“As independent musicians, we often feel like we’re completely alone and largely disorganized,” Golub said. “And so when we reached out to many of these other unions and organizations that are here, seeing their support is incredibly meaningful to us. It is important for them too, because our struggles are linked.
After speeches and a round of sending out “We’ll be back” chants, dozens of picketers marched several blocks through Manhattan to an ongoing rally outside Paramount’s offices in Times Square, where the New York musician Marc Ribot paraded with more than 130 others while playing English horn.
On the West Coast, it was a horror day outside of Warner Bros. Todd Spence tweeted a photo of a few unfortunate-looking fellow picketers who seemed to be our for blood, Ryan Shovey’s sign summed up the chaos of the past four-plus weeks, and a critter staring at Bobby Miller and others:
For those who might run away from the horror humming “What the world needs right now is love”, there was this rally outside Amazon headquarters today:
And there was more for lovers:
If all that darkness and light just made people hungry, food was back in the spotlight on Wednesday. Big mouth star-creator Nick Kroll has sent the Yeastie Boys bagel truck to the lines. No sleep before Netflix!
And speaking of toons, a group of Animation Guild picketers drank “solidarity juice,” courtesy of the teams at Grey’s Anatomy And Post 19:
Elsewhere in Los Angeles, some former ITUC the writers put their fingerprints on the picket signs:
Looking ahead to Thursday, we have a Pride picket set for the afternoon outside Warner Bros., followed by an afterparty.
Katie Campione, Rosy Cordero, Matt Grobar, Natalie Sitek, Pete White and Dominic Patten contributed to this report.
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