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Hollywood writers strike enters its 2nd day after talks with studios broke off

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

A strike by Hollywood writers enters its second day after contract negotiations with the Hollywood studios broke off Monday, shutting down productions across the film, TV and streaming industry.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting) Fists up, pens down. LA is a union town. Fists up, pens down...

FADEL: Those are the voices of Writers Guild of America members out on the picket line, and NPR's Mandalit del Barco was out there with them. She reports now.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: The writers were here protesting outside Netflix and Hollywood, chanting about corporate greed and holding picket signs that said things like, do the right thing, it all starts with a script, and "Succession" without writers is just "The Apprentice," and look how that worked out.

MADDY WHITBY: My sign says, I would write something clever, but I'm on strike.

DEL BARCO: Screenwriter Maddy Whitby started writing sketch scripts for the internet eight years ago. She says she didn't get any residuals or pay when a streaming show she wrote ended up broadcast on Nickelodeon. Another writer, Zackary Arthur, said he's only been in Los Angeles for about three years, but he recently closed a deal with Warner Brothers for his own TV show. Now that's on hold.

ZACKARY ARTHUR: You have these top CEOs, these places making hundreds of millions of dollars. I think what we're looking for is something fair, you know? And I don't think what we're asking for is unfair.

DEL BARCO: There were protests outside other Hollywood studios and even in New York. Here outside Netflix, one writer wore a bear suit to walk the picket line. Another had a sign that warned Hollywood executives, you're going to be the villains in a limited series about this. Joy Gregory's sign was also pointed at negotiators for the studios.

JOY GREGORY: I like your offer as much as you like an angry female lead.

DEL BARCO: The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television producers say the studios did make a generous offer, and they say they're prepared to improve it. But Gregory isn't buying it. She remembers the last time the writers went on strike for 100 days back in 2007, 2008.

GREGORY: And here we are again. Someone explained to me early on in my time in the Guild, you know what? Every 20 years or so, we have to strike. So bleed out, Netflix.

DEL BARCO: Gregory, who writes for a Hallmark show, says she's out here fighting for the future of her profession.

GREGORY: And so we're standing out here and taking the hits that we're going to take to protect the rights for the next generation of writers.

(SOUNDBITE OF CAR HORNS HONKING)

DEL BARCO: As some of the cars left through the gates, presumably with some executives who work inside, the protesters had a few words for them.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER #1: Join us.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER #2: Join us. Feel bad.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER #3: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER #1: Join us.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting) Feel bad, feel bad, feel bad.

DEL BARCO: The writers say they'll be back on the picket lines as long as it takes.

Mandalit del Barco, NPR News, Hollywood.

(SOUNDBITE OF TOM DOOLIE'S "ON DEMAND") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

As an arts correspondent based at NPR West, Mandalit del Barco reports and produces stories about film, television, music, visual arts, dance and other topics. Over the years, she has also covered everything from street gangs to Hollywood, police and prisons, marijuana, immigration, race relations, natural disasters, Latino arts and urban street culture (including hip hop dance, music, and art). Every year, she covers the Oscars and the Grammy awards for NPR, as well as the Sundance Film Festival and other events. Her news reports, feature stories and photos, filed from Los Angeles and abroad, can be heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, Alt.latino, and npr.org.
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