Editor’s note: One in a series of stories marking the 100th day of the WGA strike.
Although it might be important to both the Writers Guild and SAG-AFTRA that every Los Angeles-area studio have a union presence during the strike, some picket lines hold more weight than others. In other words, it didn’t take long before writers — and much later, the actors — started picking their favorite locales when it came time to protest room sizes, low residuals and the future use of artificial intelligence.
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As part of our ongoing coverage of the WGA strike, Deadline has visited every major picket line in the city. It wasn’t long before we figured out who had the best (and worst) turnout, who touted the biggest names, and who attracted the best reunions.
Here’s what we found, ranked from worst to best.
Considered enemy lines from the start, picketing at the Lankershim Boulevard lot used to be downright dangerous because of an ongoing construction project that just happened to impact the sidewalks at the start of the WGA strike May 2. While picketers were forced to congregate on corner blocks at the front gates, a small contingent agreed to take up the studio’s rear on Barham Boulevard — that is, until a faceless, nameless employee at NBCU decided it was time to trim the Ficus trees that provided picketers with much-needed shade. (The good news: The city stepped in and said the studio was wrong to trim them. The bad news: NBCU only got dinged with a $250 fine). After endless complaints and a petition, more space finally opened up August 4 on Lankershim and thousands of picketers descended upon the lot — so much so that the union was forced to close the picket line about a half-hour early because cops were straight-up freaking out.
9. CBS Television City
There’s nothing particularly sexy about picketing the former home of The Late Late Show with James Corden at Beverly Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue: the studio just isn’t as active with production now that new ownership has taken over, forcing longtime tenants like The Price is Right to find new digs. Add in how sidewalk space is severely limited around the Genesee Avenue gate, and union members just never embraced TV City as a must-stop on their protest tour. The locale has been the site of at least one moment of pure genius: Jimmy Kimmel Live! writer Jesse McLaren orchestrated a stunt involving the “AMPTP on Strike.” He brought along a suit-clad group that waved placards with messages like “Yachts rock” and “Poor people are yucky.”
8. Radford Studios
Up until recently, WGA and a smattering of actors were relegated to the Studio City complex’s Colfax Avenue gate, where the only shade came courtesy of a pop-up tent and a nearby alley. Almost three months after the writers hit the picket line, Hackman Capital Partners — the owner of the 55-acre Radford Studios — finally abandoned its claim that the Radford Avenue gate should be considered neutral, which meant the union couldn’t march there. They finally had their chance beginning July 31.
Damon Lindelof was one of the earlier picketers at this Culver City lot, carrying a sign that read “Alexa Will Not Replace Us.” He was soon followed by the likes of Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA), Chris Pine, Patti Jenkins, Simu Liu, Clark Gregg, Jennifer Grey and the cast of This is Us. Free burritos were once handed out that almost made up for the otherwise sweaty picket line.
If a picketer is looking to accrue the most amount of steps in one day, this locale is it. The area around the Culver City lot is massive and allows writers and actors to visit multiple gates while marching for better residual pay. Although it has been hot as hell, Sony has attracted a dazzling array of visitors including a group of flash-mobbing Latinas, WGA West president Meredith Stiehm and U.S. Rep. Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-CA), and an F Is For Family reunion. And Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre? The union thanks you for those bagels.
Considered a more chill space for, ahem, more mature members of the unions, David E. Kelley, David Milch, J.J. Abrams, Dylan McDermott and Dermot Mulroney have marched near the main gate on Pico Boulevard. Although light on shade, the studio has been the site of many reunions, including The X Files (good to see you, David Duchovny!), Family Guy, Bones, The Shield and Timeless, while Cobra Kai sent over delicious pretzels and Yeastie Boys brought their bagels.
Party people like to descend on the streamer’s corporate offices on Sunset, where Imagine Dragons held an impromptu acoustic concert early on, followed by a delightful appearance by a group of Dolly Parton drag queens. Jane Fonda held court at Netflix, and it was Fran Drescher’s first stop when SAG-AFTRA hit the picket lines. Food is always tasty there, too; there was a chicken-and-waffles day, and Shonda Rhimes sent over some tacos. But the highlight of the Netflix picket line is the section where union members mist the picketers with “AMPTP tears” if it gets too hot outside.
It’s the second best place in the city to rack up the steps, assuming it’s not too humid to walk the entire block around the Burbank lot. Stars like Sean Penn and Colin Farrell have descended upon this conveniently located picket line that has also hosted a medical procedural day, an Aloha day for Hawaiian writers, and a Native American & Indigenous Writers Takeover. And parking is relatively easy, even though authorities on July 18 began prohibiting parking on Keystone Street between Alameda Avenue and West Riverside Drive. But they did that to actually protect the picketers (see how that worked, NBCUniversal?).
Ask Jack Black, Rob Lowe, Rosario Dawson and the former cast of Ugly Betty why they chose this L.A. location — it’s just a cool place to be, man. And no, we’re not talking about the temperature; there’s not much shade to be enjoyed while walking line the between the two gates. But the chorus of horns along Melrose Avenue is always invigorating, not to mention those surprise treats like the ice cream provided by the Star Trek team.
1. Warner Bros
Maybe it’s because it’s the home of embattled Warner Bros Discovery CEO David Zaslav. Or maybe it’s because picketers never got over how those signs about excessive honking went up on West Olive Avenue only days after the WGA strike began. Either way, the Burbank lot is the must-stop on L.A.’s Great Picketing Tour of 2023. Star power is consistent at Gates 3 and 4; Demi Moore and Bob Odenkirk have walked the line along with Quinta Brunson, Jameela Jamil, Kaitlyn Dever, Bradley Whitford and the cast of Mayans M.C. There was also a superhero day and a visit from stunt drivers; reunions of ER, The George Lopez Show and Ted Lasso; and some tasty snacks courtesy of Greg Berlanti and Lil Wayne. And who can forget those strippers?
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