Two frosted haired ladies walk stiffly through the ebbs and flows of sidewalk traffic on West Alameda Avenue in Burbank. The street is lined with WGA strikers circling the Disney, NBC and Warner Bros. studios. The ladies, residents of the O.C. are here to enjoy their recent retirement. Tops on their tourist to-do list is to join audiences at a few of their favorite NBC shows. Their plan nearly went awry yesterday when Ellen: The Ellen Degeneres Show was canceled along with Jay Leno’s Tonight Show – until the pair got a call today to come on down to see NBC’s funny woman. With all the strikers hitting the streets, the two are still unsure if the show is actually going to go on.
Brent Bradshaw, a writer for Last Call with Carson Daly confirms that the Ellen show is still happening. Tourists – gleaming in their I’m-gonna-be-on-TV outfits – line up behind the fence near Bradshaw and his fellow protestors. A number of the NBC-based strikers are disappointed that Ellen's program is up and running. However, Bradshaw says the strikers have been able to convince some of the show’s attendees to join their side.
Friends Stacey Loera, Prince Villa and April Lopez from Sylmar have been marching with the WGA strikers for over six hours. The trio played hooky from school to see Chris Brown (the easy-on-the-eyes, 18-year-old, hip-hopper who sings that song that goes “she want that lovey-dovey, kiss-kiss”) on Ellen's show. But after talking to a number of passionate members of the rally, the three decided to join forces with the writers.
“We understand. If we were in their position we would be out here too,” Loera says, looking older than her sixteen years and blinking behind her bangs.
They're not the only non-WGA members supporting the strike. On Alameda Avenue, Bob Oedy, an electrician and Union member/supporter, enthusiastically waves his “W.G.A. STRIKE” sign. Alongside Oedy, Phil (bashful about giving his last name) joins the protest simply as a fan of NBC shows who wants to support the writers.
Richard Eagon, head-writer of Last Call with Carson Daly, wishes everyone in the union was as enthusiastic. He’s disappointed that Ellen DeGeneres, a WGA member, has “crossed their picket,” not joined in on the march, and continued to host and write for her weekday episodes.
“She has seven writers and all seven writers walk this line every morning. She will not drive through here either, she drives through an underground gate,” a disappointed Eagon says between honks in support of the struggling strikers.
Almost all the other show runners called in sick for the week including Carson Daily, Jay Leno, Jimmy Kimmel and Steve Carrell – who said he was ill with an “enlarged testicle” Eagon explains. Nearby, a red-haired writer can’t help but taunt the Ellen-goers, “dancing, get ready for dancing.”
“Be sure to tell people,” a WGA colleague says with a Valleyspeak inflection, “that Ellen is guh-aay!”
For more coverage on Networks/Studios vs. Showrunners and the W.G.A. Strike go to Nikki Finke’s Deadline Hollywood Daily.
Protestors rally as the audience gets reigned in for Ellen DeGeneres' show.