Writers' Kids, Bearing a Striking Resemblance

By Lisa de Moraes
Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Nothing warms the heart like the sight of little children being put to work carrying picket signs outside the gates of movie studios to give Hollywood writers the much-needed cute factor as they enter their second week of revolt.

"Residuals Took Out My Tonsils," said a sign carried by a precocious moppet at one of the entrances to the Fox lot Monday morning. The Writers Guild of America began its strike a week ago after bargaining reached an impasse over residuals from DVD sales and Internet downloads.

"I've known a lot of spoiled brats in my day, but these guys take the cake," read another sign carried by a redheaded cherub and bearing snaps of the likes of CEOs Leslie Moonves of CBS, Jeff Zucker of NBC Universal, Bob Iger of ABC-parent Disney and Peter Chernin of Fox-parent News Corp.

All around Los Angeles, children of Hollywood writers marched with signs on sticks bearing grown-up messages such as "I Learned to Share When I Was in Freaking Diapers!" and "Residuals Paid for My Birth" and "If Daddy Doesn't Get Back to Work Soon I'll Have to Attend Public School." Okay, we made that last one up.

Children were picketing because their schools were closed and nannies got the day off in observance of Veterans Day. Not that the tots weren't getting an education.

For instance, kids picketing at NBC Universal studios got an important civics lesson when a cop started slapping picketers with jaywalking tickets if they entered a crosswalk while the red hand was flashing but declined to ticket drivers who took left turns into the crosswalk filled with picketer-pedestrians -- a major no-no here -- even when picketers helpfully pointed out the law-breaking drivers to the cop, according to the Los Angeles Web site Defamer.

Universal Studios will be the site of Tuesday's Writers Guild of America West Coast bash: Bring a Star to Strike Day.

Meanwhile, showrunners fought for bragging rights as to which series was least prepared to end original episodes soon.

The early front-runner is "Scrubs" creator Bill Lawrence, who made sure the media knew he'd fended off efforts to get him to tweak the last episode written before the strike to make it series finale-ish.

"I will use all my leverage to end this show properly, even if it means I have to do all the voices myself and call people up to read it over the phone," he reportedly said at a New York Comedy Festival event over the weekend.

Other shows, "Heroes," "Pushing Daisies" and "Men in Trees" among them, caved to pressure from The Man to provide alternative endings to whatever episode they were wrapping up right before the strike broke out, to function as a season finale if needed.

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Apparently it took a two-season order to get "Damages" principals to agree to return to FX, because that's what the cable network has ordered, despite the show's less-than-sizzling ratings.

While earning critical praise, the lawyer drama, which stars Glenn Close, did not snag the crowd other FX series have enjoyed when it bowed last July; first telecasts of its episodes averaged about 2.5 million viewers. FX President John Landgraf said in interviews he wasn't thrilled with the show's ratings, and the network dallied for weeks before finally announcing the pickup yesterday.

Over two seasons, 26 episodes will be shot. Close, as well as Rose Byrne and Tate Donovan, will be back, and production, in theory, will start early next year, unless the writers' strike is still happening.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company