Day 3: WGA picket lines shut down Billions and American Horror Story

(CREDIT: Shutterstock)

Striking members of the Writers Guild of America East (WGA) which includes Chicago, struck hard on the third day of the labor dispute by delaying production on the set of Showtime’s Billions for several hours and shuttering the set of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story.

Deadline reports that hundreds of WGA members flocked to Wall Street on a gray and wet Thursday. The group, which is in dispute with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), managed to delay a tow truck pulling a prop Jeep to Seret Studios, a production hangar where Billions is filmed.

They accomplished this by having several dozen sign-waving film and television writers block an entryway at the East River studio. “Day or night/rain or shine/you don’t cross/a picket line,” the energized and determined writers chanted as police finally began to arrive on the scene.

Even with officers on the scene, the writers would not give in as supporters showed up as well. The almost four-hour standoff occurred after cast and crew members decided not to cross the WGA picket lines.

“You’re blocking the driveway,” the officer told the writers. Finally, the local precinct commander showed up minutes later and spoke by phone with a union leader to explain that “impeding business” by blocking driveways is illegal in New York State. Writers finally opened a lane for the driver to pull in. The driver was met with chants of “Scab!”

“We want them to get their message across,” the precinct commander, NYPD Deputy Inspector Kathleen E. Fahey, told Deadline. “But we also want to preserve the peace.”

Deadline reports that the decision by cast and crew to not cross the picket line was respected by the production and Showtime parent company Paramount Global. Filming did resume on the show later Thursday.

Picketing writers could also be found outside of York Studios in the Bronx where Apple TV+’s series Severance is filmed.


American Horror Story Shuts Down

Meanwhile, at Silvercup Studios in Queens, the Teamsters showed union solidarity by joining in protesting and chanting scribes outside of the American Horror Story set. The group turned their trucks around. Teamsters showed solidarity with another group of picketing scribes and turned their trucks around outside where American Horror Story‘s latest season is filming.

An AHS crew member reportedly said they were waiting for their union rep to arrive before they would leave for the day. The crew member also asserted that actors on the show were entering through a studio back entrance, avoiding the picket lines.

The WGA said Wednesday that stagehands and truckers represented by IATSE and the Teamsters did not cross the picket line.

The Guild has been seeking higher compensation for writers, higher wage floors across the board, standardizing fees for streaming and theatrical films, expanding span protection (which shields writers being compensated per episode from working for long periods on short-order series), regulating mini rooms and instituting a mandatory two “steps” (points of payment) for feature writers.

Before the talks broke off, however, the two sides had reached tentative agreements on several issues, including script fees for staff writers; improvements in the guild’s span provisions, which offer protection against the erosion of over-scale pay for writer-producers on short-order series, and an easing of burdensome options and exclusivity provisions that hold staff writers long-term without pay.

The two sides were very far apart on money issues, however. The guild wants to see pay and benefits increased by $429 million over three years, but says that the studios only offered $86 million.

Today, writers will protest in front of Broadway Stages in Greenpoint and on-location in Chelsea.

Picketing writers are said to be organizing in Chicago. We will supply updates as we receive the information.

Sign up for our free elert here and follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.

If you rely on the Reel as a source for information, or count on us to help you promote your news, then please consider making a donation, no matter how small, to help us continue publishing.

>>> Donate Here <<<