Solidarity for as long as it's convenient

The lights of Broadway went dark Saturday when members of the International Association of Theater and Stage Employees, Local 1, went on strike against the League of American Theatres and Producers.

Partric Verrone, president of the Writers Guild of America, West and Michael Winship, president of the Writers Guild of America, East, Sunday sent a joint letter of support to James Claffey Jr., president of the IATSE local.

"Just as you have stood with us in our current strike against the motion picture and television studios and networks, so, too, do we stand with you as you seek the fair and respectful contract that you have earned and deserve," they said in the letter. |Nov. 11|

A crippling strike that had shut down most Broadway shows in the heart of the holiday season ended late Wednesday night as striking stagehands finally hammered out a new contract with theater owners and producers.

The strike, which had entered its 19th day and drained millions of dollars in revenue from the theater district, was settled after a 12-hour bargaining session that had begun Wednesday morning between the League of American Theaters and Producers and members of Local 1, representing about 3,000 stagehands. |Nov. 29|

Hair and makeup artists, set decorators, grips, prop specialists, and hundreds of others who work in television and film production marched through the heart of Hollywood on Sunday morning urging an end to the five-week-old writers strike.

Their mission: to draw attention to the predicament of the thousands of people who work in television and film, and the businesses that serve them. They are not on strike but fear their livelihoods are at risk anyway.

"We are here today to remind the leadership of those locked in this struggle that real people, real men and women and their families are being damaged," said rally organizer Chris Griffin to the crowd and media assembled at Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue. "Each day this strike is prolonged, our futures become more precarious."

Although these so-called "below-the-line" workers are not part of the negotiations, most are out of work until the strike is over and productions begin again. Many are starting to compete for work in film and reality television, which are still in production, unlike most scripted television.

The strike's toll on thousands of production workers who aren't members of the Writers Guild of America has deepened friction with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), which represents below-the-line workers.

The breakdown Friday of talks between the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers prompted a scathing denunciation of the guild's leadership from IATSE President Thomas C. Short.

"I don't believe the WGA ever intended to bargain in good faith," said Short, who has repeatedly clashed with guild leaders in the last year. "And they are destroying a lot of lives in the process." |Dec. 9|

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