Dispatches From The Picket Lines: Hear From Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick, Kal Penn, Others As Actors & Writers Hit The Streets Of Manhattan

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It’s Day 5 of the SAG-AFTRA strike and Day 78 of the WGA strike.

Writers and actors on strike simultaneously for the first time in more than 60 years fanned out across Manhattan on Tuesday morning with renewed demands for better pay, more job security and limits on the use of artificial intelligence in film and television.

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The Writers Guild of America and the SAG-AFTRA ran picket lines at four locations near the offices of NBCUniversal, Paramount, Amazon, HBO, Netflix and Warner Bros. Discovery. WGA marchers said they welcomed SAG-AFTRA members joining them on strike as of Friday, after months of backing the Writers Guild in its dispute with the major film and television production companies.

“It does feel different,” writer, comedian and WGA East member Josh Gondelman said outside NBCUniversal headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. “It’s really heartening to have this infusion of energy and the same righteous anger out on the lines that we had.”

Gondelman noted how much actor support the writers already have had since they went on strike in early May. “There have been a ton of SAG-AFGTRA members that have been out there for 75, 78 days already, which I think just shows you how in it that union is as well,” he said. “They’ve already been out here. They know the fight. They’re in the fight. And it’s one fight, really.”

He added the two unions striking together creates more solidarity and more resolve for everyone on the picket lines, but he wasn’t yet prepared to say what impact that dynamic might have on the strike’s timeline or the willingness of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers to resume negotiations. “I’m not trying to conjecture too much,” Gondelman said. “We’re in it ’til we get a fair deal. That’s been our stance when it was just the writers. But it’s really encouraging, this infusion of noise and this infusion of energy.”

Two dozen marchers occupied the curb outside Paramount offices in Times Square shortly after 9 a.m. Another 100 marchers including acting couple Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgewick and veteran Law & Order: Criminal Intent actor Kathryn Erbe walked a long circle next to 30 Rockefeller Plaza, home to NBCUniversal.

As Sedgwick and Bacon prepared to join the picket line at 30 Rock, Sedgwick told Deadline, “The studios have been making a lot of free money for a really long time, and the time for that to come to an end is now.”

Said Bacon: “I’m in a position, Kyra’s in a position … to be able to negotiate a lot of these points. But we’re in here for the base contract for the middle- and working-class actors in our union, of which there are many. As you know this union has very great disparity between wages, and our union membership needs a strong base contract to start from. And that’s why we’re here to support.”

RELATED: How The SAG-AFTRA Strike Could Upend This Year’s Movie Release Schedule & Box Office

In Hudson Yards, several dozen more demonstrators including writer and actor Tina Fey congregated outside Amazon and HBO offices while organizers handed out cowbells and cans of sparkling water, and marchers played air guitar while a DJ streamed Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”

Another 100 people including writer and actor Kal Penn chanted union slogans and waved signs in front of Netflix and Warner Bros. Discovery offices above Union Square.

As the rally outside Netflix wound down, and organizers started breaking camp minutes ahead of a rainstorm, WGA and SAG-AFTRA member Penn told Deadline about his early years in the industry as an extra and background actor. For people doing that work today, he said, the raises being offered by AMPTP won’t even keep pace with inflation.

“That type of greed, as the CEOs are making more and more money, isn’t tenable,” Penn said. “And I think what the unions are asking for is a rational conversation about how to move forward together in this business we all love. It’s a real shame that the companies aren’t willing to have that conversation, knowing full well that the nature and the dynamics of our industry — streaming, AI — aren’t going anywhere. So it’s important for people to rationally sit down.”

Erbe told Deadline that even actors like herself — she was the longtime star of a network television franchise — are seeing their residuals income shrink as they also face more competition for roles.

“I’ve worried about whether or not I would have insurance for many years in a row, and it’s a terrible feeling,” Erbe said. “But that feeling … helps me to identify with the others in this position. And so I’m out here screaming my voice out, just trying to be heard.”

Until last week, Sean Crespo described himself as a striking writer. He still does. But on Tuesday morning in Times Square, the former staff writer at Full Frontal with Samantha Bee and member of both WGA and SAG-AFTRA was, for the first time, marching with both of his striking unions — even if he identified a little more with one of them.

“Look, we were prepared to go this alone,” Crespo told Deadline, referring to the Writers Guild. “The WGA is strong enough and the members are fired up enough that if we had to do this alone, we’d do this alone. But having these guys here, it’s just extra. It’s amazing. And their struggle is basically very similar to ours. And it’s awesome to see them owning how dangerous the times are.”

“I keep saying ‘them,’ like I’m not a member,” he added.

Like fellow writer Gondelman, Crespo wasn’t quite ready to assign a timeline to a dual strike. “The math has sort of become more complicated in a way,” he said. “You would think it would get shorter. But I feel like the thinking in the AMPTP is — it’s going to make them want to drag it out a little bit longer.”

Warren Leight, a WGA East member and former Law & Order showrunner, joined with demonstrators outside Netflix and Warner Bros. Discovery on Tuesday. A former strike captain until American Horror Story creator Ryan Murphy threatened to sue him, Leight told Deadline that he, too, welcomed the new energy that SAG-AFTRA, with its larger and more star-studded membership, is bringing to the picket line.

Leight also remarked that the AMPTP had an opportunity to cut a deal with actors that could have further isolated the striking writers, but failed to do so.

Here are some more testimonials and images from the streets of New York today:

Actors strike Manhattan
Actors strike Manhattan
Actors strike Manhattan
Actors strike Manhattan
Actors strike Manhattan
Actors strike Manhattan
Actors strike Manhattan
Actors strike Manhattan
Actors strike Manhattan
Actors strike Manhattan
Actors strike Manhattan
Actors strike Manhattan

Scott Shilstone and Erik Pedersen contributed to this report.

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