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Jane Espenson

John August meets Jane Espenson at the strike

Sunday 11 November 2007, by Webmaster

Strike, day five

fox plazaYesterday was the big rally at Fox Plaza, drawing 4,000 protesters to Century City for speeches in front of the Die Hard building.

Zack de la Rocha and Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine kicked it off with a set, followed by remarks from…

* Jesse Jackson
* WGA president Patric Verrone
* WGA negotiating committee chairman RobJohn Bowman
* WGA executive director David Young
* SAG president Alan Rosenberg
* Family Guy creator Seth McFarlane, and
* Norman Lear

I’m listing the speakers because unless you were standing pretty close, you’d have had no idea who was talking. Between the picket signs, the helicopters, and an under-powered amplifier, probably half the gathered crowd only cheered because they heard others cheering.

Still, the mood was quite celebratory. It was amazing to see that many writers in one place. I bumped into many people I forgot I knew. Probably my biggest happiness was introducing myself to Jane Espenson, whose blog on TV spec writing is so generous I feel the entire town owes her dinner.

Jane shared with me the plight of young writers caught in the prestigious Disney Fellows program. Disney is requiring these non-WGA writers to keep showing up to write their specs — crossing the picket line and jeopardizing their hopes of ever joining the WGA. (If you’re one of these fellows, please write in, anonymously if you need to. This is bullshit apparently getting resolved. See the update.)

I forgot to get a picture with Jane, but remembered in time for a few other snapshots, which I put up on Flickr.

Update: Jane wrote in with encouraging news:

Hi. My current understanding is that the Guild and Disney and their Fellows are all working together on some kind of solution as we speak. This Fellowship gave me my start and I believe in it and the people who run in. As I think about it now, I’m certain that the right thing will be done and no one will be required to either cross the line or to resign their fellowship. There are only three months left in the term of the fellowship anyway — certainly they will let the kids collect the small amount of pay and benefits owed to them and not give up any chance of ever working again. I have faith in the people involved in this extraordinary program. I’d suggest that we stay cool on this issue while they work out the details.

There’s a lot of talk about “cooler heads prevailing,” but it’s great to hear an example of this actually happening. Thanks for the update.