A Cruel But Necessary Post-Strike Farewell From “Fake Carol” to Hollywood

“The endgame is to allow things to drag on until union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses,” a studio executive told Deadline. One insider called it “a cruel but necessary evil.”

We’re all glad the strikes are finally over, but I feel misunderstood. I mean, sure, I pull down tons of cash to stonewall and bulldoze artists on behalf of multinational media conglomerates who want to protect their many billions of dollars in beautiful, beautiful profits. And I get that a certain amount of public condemnation and mockery come with the gig (yes, I’ve seen your mean tweets and memes and yes, I hope all of you die). But before I crawl back into my office in the bowels of a Sherman Oaks shopping mall, before little ol’ Carol is gone and forgotten for the next three years (or at least until next summer when I get to work on IATSE), I’d like all of you to know that I am a human being with hopes (that I don’t get fired) and dreams (someday living in one of those condos above the The Cheesecake Factory at the Americana), feelings (a terrifying, unslakable greed) and fears (Ellen Stutzman).

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Is it a noble pursuit, dedicating one’s life to stepping on the necks of working people in order to keep costs low enough for CEOs to convince Wall Street they’re good at their jobs? Maybe, maybe not — but it is necessary. Somebody has to get paid over 3 million dollars annually to do this job, so why not me? You think Bob Iger and Ted Sarandos want to dock their yachts for months to hear Chris Keyser go all Norma Rae on them so writers can barely afford to live? You think Donna Langley and David Zaslav want to sit in a room for hours trying to maintain a respectful tone across the table from The Nanny and her emotional support plushie? Trust me they do not. So that’s where I come in. I am the veil through which show and business must touch. I am the human shield protecting commerce from artists. I am Carol fucking Lombardini, and like it or not, you need me.

Because what would you do without me? Equitably distribute the massive sums of money your collective creativity generates among all the people who contributed to it? No, that would be chaos! We need to make deals. Deals are the hidden gears that keep the old Hollywood Dream Factory (mmm, just the word ‘factory’ makes me salivate) up and running. And you know what gets deals done? Pain. Pain on both sides — maybe it’s having your skin scorched off in the middle of an LA summer because the shade-providing trees where you picket were mysteriously mauled, or maybe it’s having to work through a weekend because you waited over 140 days to actually negotiate and now Yom Kippur is coming up and you were planning to go to Ibiza. Maybe it’s losing your home, your life’s savings, or the career momentum you’ve been trying to build for years — or maybe it’s losing a tee time because Duncan Crabtree-Island wants to talk more about boring A.I. language. Look, the point is we’ve all suffered.

But what was all the suffering for? Now that the deals have been made, and the picket lines abandoned, the entire industry must look to its future — past the billions lost, past the lives destroyed, past the smoldering desolation I have wrought in pursuit of my union-busting fantasies. Artists and commerce-ists alike must once again come together and get back to the core ideals you both share: creating content. Optimizing that content for algorithms. Monetizing that content in speculative and dubious new business models. And sometimes just deleting and disappearing that content if somebody might save a few dollars on their corporate tax return. After all, those are the kinds of dreams that brought all of us to this crazy town of tinsel to begin with!

So while I wish all of you the best of luck out there in the brave new world of tech-driven content creation that delivers value for shareholders — your girl will be right back here in the Galleria where she belongs, trying to decide between PF Chang’s and Cheesecake Factory for lunch (spoiler alert: she’s doing a ‘bang bang bang bang’, which is where you get bang bang shrimp from Chang’s and then stir it together with bang bang chicken from Cheesecake).

I ask only that you remember me from time to time, as I was, and as I remain: a cruel but necessary evil.

Crushing Labor with Love, (Fake) Carol

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