‘Ted Lasso’, ‘ER’ Reunion & Middle Eastern Writers – Deadline
Written by on May 31, 2023
The writers strike has entered its fifth week and is about to enter its second month and shows no sign of abating.
There were some high-profile reunions on the streets of Burbank today including the cast and crew of Ted Lasso, who were on the picket lines hours ahead of the series finale of their Apple comedy drama, and the team behind hit medical drama ER.
Jason Sudekis, who has been regularly walking the line outside Ted Lasso studio Warner Bros. Discovery, was joined by Brendan Hunt, Hannah Waddingham and Nick Mohammed among others, who were originally in LA to attend a finale event before it was canceled as a result of the standoff.
Waddingham, on social media, said, “On our final day as Richmond Greyhounds….there’s nowhere else we could be. Thank you so much to our magnificent writers’ room. We’d be nothing without you.”
Warner Bros. Discovery was also the scene of a reunion for one of its longest running medical dramas, ER. The cast and crew of the Warner Bros. Television-produced NBC drama series, which ran for over 330 episodes between 1994 and 2009, were out in force in Burbank.
Noah Wyle, who starred as John Carter and who is a member of the WGA, DGA and SAG, told Deadline that he’s out supporting his fellow writers. “The email chain went out and the turnout has been phenomenal, not just the writers but actors and crew people and background artists and directors, it’s been an amazing show of solidarity out here,” he said.
MIDDLE EASTERN WRITERS: UNDERREPRESENTED VOICES JOIN TOGETHER
The other big movement today was a meetup of the WGA West’s Middle Eastern Writers Committee, which saw around 50 writers join together.
This included co-chairs Paiman Kalayeh, who has written on series including DC’s Legends of Tomorrow and Sunnyside, and Cameron Fay, who has written screenplays for Life-Size 2 and Brother Nature, and vice chair Mano Agapion, who has written on Netflix’s Pretty Smart and Peacock’s Punky Brewster reboot, as well as Single Drunk Female writer Mithra Alavi, Cornucopia writer Yousef Nash and The Politician writer Mal Merpi.
Kalayeh told Deadline that the Middle Eastern Writers Committee has been speaking to other committees to advance the cause.
“We have been reaching across the aisle to all the other committees to help and show up when we need each other. This is the time to show our brothers and sisters in the union that we are in this fight together, and we’re stronger together,” he said.
The WGAW’s Middle Eastern Writers Committee actually formed during the pandemic so Fay says this is the first time many of its members have met in person. “You can see the look in each other’s eyes when we see people that kind of look like us with names similar to ours. There’s a lot of camaraderie. There’s a lot of actual hope and we hope that translates to the negotiating table where we can get that fair deal,” he added.
Agapion added that it’s really important that people across the spectrum of the WGA come together, including different genders, sexual orientations and racial makeups. “We need people with underrepresented voices to show the people in power that we’re not going away. We’re not a fad and we’re not a token, we have a lot of stories to tell that we want to actually put on a main stage,” he said.
He added that the goal is to create their own authentic stories. “We’re still being treated like extras in the industry. We’re there to spice up other people’s productions. Stories are still based on the whiteness of pop culture… if we don’t make new stories, we’re never going to see a Succession with a group of people that isn’t already representing the people already in power,” he added.
Kalayeh said diversity in the television industry was “getting better” before the strike but that with all of the cuts and consolidation, it could move backwards. “If we don’t get a fair deal, that pipeline is just going to get cut off even more to the point where all that progress that we’ve made, all that work with that we’ve been trying to do, as a committee will just go away. That’s a big reason why we’re in this fight together, to see that progress continue once the strike is over,” he said.
Elsewhere in LA, it was Video Game Day at NBCUniversal.
The signs were suitably console-friendly from “Toad Rides for WGA” and “Blue Shell The AMPTP” to “You Haven’t Seen The Last Of Us”. Talking of the video game that was turned into HBO’s Pedro Pascal-fronted zombie drama hit, Halley Gross was among the picketers. Gross was a co-writer and narrative lead of The Last Of Us Part II, the game, and has also written for series such as HBO’s Westworld and Amazon’s Too Old To Die Young.
On the other side of the country, writers were picketing ABC’s The View today in New York.
“We’ve been through some strike before and we know how to support each other and we know how to buck each other up when things get tough. We’re moving into the fifth week of this strike and we are solid and we’re going to make noise along with everyone else. It’s a righteous cause,” said Courtney Simon, one of the co-leaders of the WGA’s Career Longevity salon and writer on All My Children and General Hospital outside the daytime show.