November 8, 2007 / 6:58 AM / 12 years ago

Striking TV writer-producers picket Disney

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - More than 125 striking executive producers from shows including “Ugly Betty,” “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and “Lost” protested at the gates of Walt Disney Studios in Burbank as the Writers Guild of America’s strike entered its third day.

“Every day the producers don’t give us a fair and decent deal is a wasted day in Hollywood,” “Ugly Betty” creator Silvio Horta said.

Wearing a T-shirt reading “Wasted Days” written in the famous Disney font, Horta and fellow “Betty” executive producer Marco Pennette said it was important for all showrunners to get together and be seen supporting the strike, which began Monday after contract talks broke down over payment for DVDs and digital downloads.

“For the sake of the show, we worked on the scripts up to the deadline,” Pennette said. “And for the sake of the actors, they can shoot something. But we chose to not cross the line.”

Among the showrunners: “SVU’s” Neal Baer, “Entourage’s” Doug Ellin, Carlton Cuse of “Lost,” veteran producer John Wells (“ER”), and “Desperate Housewives” creator Marc Cherry.

“Today is very much about showing solidarity among showrunners,” said Cherry.

As more shows begin to close up shop, Cherry said he expects to see more Screen Actors Guild members turn out at the picket lines. Next week, Cherry said, there will be special pickets featuring actors, and on Friday, the “entire guild membership” is supposed to show up at 20th Century Fox studios.

Following the march, the showrunners gathered at the Smoke House Restaurant in Burbank for a lunch that was paid for by a talent agency.

Eyewitness reported that discussions between moderates and militants escalated into a heated debate over the guild’s bargaining strategy as well as the spectrum of producing duties showrunners could perform during a strike. No punches were thrown, though the verbal barbs were said to be sharp and unusually multisyllabic. According to sources, the debate later moved to the WGA headquarters in Los Angeles.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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