Members of the Writers Guild of America staged a picket Wednesday outside of the rehearsal space used by competitors on “Dancing With the Stars,” as ABC is moving forward with the premiere of the reality competition’s 32nd season next week.
Approximately 20-25 guild members were counted by TheWrap at 8:45 a.m. around the sidewalk and back alley entrances to the rehearsal space, with shifts planned into the afternoon. Picket line coordinators did not divulge details on their plans for future pickets but said they are approaching the “DWTS” picket lines with a similar strategy to the grassroots picket lines that were formed in the early months of the strike to shut down productions that tried to continue shooting without writers present.
“A number of the contestants are SAG-AFTRA members, and we hope that they see us out here, respect our picket line, and have a check of conscience,” Melissa Blake, WGA member and lot coordinator for the guild’s NBCUniversal picket lines, said.
In a statement earlier this week, the WGA said that it will continue to “picket struck shows that are in production during the strike.” The guild considers “Dancing With the Stars” to be one such show as the banter and announcements made by the show’s hosts are considered to be WGA-covered writing work.
During the 2007-08 strike, ABC rolled cameras on “Dancing With the Stars” without the WGA writer it employs to work with the hosts on their prepared announcements and rehired the writer when the strike ended. The show is set to take that same approach with the upcoming season.
Actors participating in “Dancing With the Stars” are not in violation of the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike, as the show operates under the Network Code, which is separated from the TV/Theatrical contract which the actors guild is striking on.
However, the show is not allowed to discuss past or future film and TV projects that the celebrity contestants are involved with or use footage from those projects in video packages. Among the competitors on the upcoming season are “Brady Bunch” star Barry Williams and “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” star Xochitl Gomez.
The WGA picket lines come as the guild is set to resume talks with the AMPTP on a new labor contract.
Blake’s sister, Joy Blake, was also on hand at the “DWTS” picket. Of the resumed talks, she said, “Things are always better when there’s conversation happening. It’s nice when AMPTP returns to the table. It always means progress. We’re hopeful, but we’re going to keep doing this until it’s over.”
When the renewed talks were announced last week, some talk shows that were set to resume taping despite the strike, including CBS’ “The Talk” and HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher,” walked back those plans in the hopes that a deal will be reached.
The WGA strike has lasted 141 days and is two weeks away from passing the 1988 writers’ strike for the longest strike in entertainment industry history.
For all of TheWrap’s WGA strike coverage, read here.