NEWS

TV writers strike to hit Harvard Square

Matt Dunning

Sci Fi Channel writer Jamie Paglia thinks it’s high time the rest of the nation comes face to face with the much-publicized plight of screen and television writers.

Paglia, a Cambridge resident who’s the writer and creator of the series “Eureka” on the Sci Fi Channel, plans on co-hosting a rally in Harvard Square on Friday to drum up support for picketing writers in Hollywood and New York.

“We really need to expand our strike presence,” said Paglia, who recently moved back to Cambridge with his wife, Kristen. “We’re very unified, but the story in New York and Hollywood has played out.”

In November, members of the Writers Guild of America walked out on film and television studios across the country after contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers stalled over, among other things, new media residuals, including DVD sales and advertising tied to Internet broadcasting.

Paglia said the work stoppage, now well into its second month, has been financially bothersome for many top-tier writers. The ones really suffering, he said, are lower-ranking staff writers.

“This has been a lot harder on people who are at the staff writing level,” Paglia said. “Those are the kind of people we’re trying to protect, and that’s why these residuals are so important. At any given point, about 51 percent of the [writers’] guild is unemployed. Those residuals end up making a huge difference.”

Beyond his fellow writers, Paglia said the other contingent of people catching the short end of the strike is the millions of fans already beginning to grow weary of reruns and reality shows. He added that fans, not writers, are the driving force behind the push for the strike’s nationalization.

“This is certainly not my event,” Paglia said. “The fans have made all of this possible. They’ve been the ones reaching out to us. This is our chance to walk side by side with the fans that make our shows even possible.”

Paglia said he won’t be the only television writer leading the crowd on Friday. Heavyweight TV scribe Joss Whedon — whom Paglia said has the most rabid and well-organized fan base of any other writer he’s known — of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” fame, as well as Rob Kutner of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” will be on hand to talk and march with fans who support the writers’ cause.

“This is a much broader issue than just writers versus producers,” Paglia said, adding that in addition to fans and fellow industry types, the guild has also sought solidarity among other labor unions. “This is about protecting all people who create anything that corporations make a profit off of.”

The rally kicks off at noon at the meeting house of the First Parish Unitarian Church. Strikers and fans will then march across Harvard Square to the Harvard Lampoon building. For more information, visit the guild’s Web site at www.wga.org or www.fans4writers.com.

Cambridge Chronicle