Striking writers in New York City said they disrupted filming of FBI: Most Wanted for a second straight day by heading off a planned location shoot at a public park in Brooklyn on Friday morning and later by causing slowdowns of work on the Dick Wolf-EP’d crime drama starring Dylan McDermott and Alexa Davalos at a nearby soundstage.
Union organizers tipped off to a location shoot at Monsignor McGolrick Park in the Greenpoint neighborhood showed up at 7 a.m. Friday morning and waited, but no film crew showed up, representatives from the Writers Guild of America East told Deadline.
It was unclear whether the show’s producers paused filming because of picketers, but WGA representatives said they saw call sheets confirming the shoot there, and they took credit for intercepting it before it could get underway.
Production on the fifth season of FBI: Most Wanted in its final days. Strikers and their supporters halted production on FBI: Most Wanted for a couple of hours Thursday, as well.
Some shooting went forward a few blocks away at the Broadway Stages production complex in Greenpoint on Friday, but minus some stagehands and truckers — members of IATSE Local No. 52 and the Teamsters, respectively — who refused to cross the picket line set up outside, WGA reps said.
On a hot day with little cloud cover, picketers chose a treeless industrial neighborhood next to a produce warehouse and a scrap metal dealer and down the block from a wastewater treatment plant for their latest confrontations with film and television producers after the writers’ contract expired last week. (Picketers also were scheduled to march outside Steiner Studios at the Brooklyn Navy Yard office and industrial park on Friday, WGA representatives said.)
As afternoon temperatures climbed into the mid-80s, about four dozen people in all marched outside Broadway Stages, on both sides of a paved outdoor loading area almost the width of a football field, where FBI: Most Wanted is close to finishing its fourth season.
Members of WGA, SAG-AFTRA, IATSE and, at one point, three men from the United Steel Workers union walked along a street lined with supply trucks and cast trailers and kept watch on the concourse, where work crews behind chain-link fencing could be seen going in and out of a hangar-sized building, and loading and unloading trucks.
Demonstrators didn’t block people or vehicles, but on one gate with a key code lock they taped a handwritten sign reading, “You are crossing a picket line (cool!)” A set of scrawled hash marks tallied the number of picket line crossings.
They chanted slogans, waved signs, and passed around sunscreen and bottled water. Some paused to get ice cream being served out of a truck sent and paid for by the hosts of five talk shows.
Marching outside Broadway Stages on Friday was WGA member, screenwriter and showrunner Dan Futterman (Capote, The Looming Tower, American Rust). “A lot of the issues are not as much about show runners,” Futterman told Deadline Hollywood, “but it’s important that we stick together and demonstrate that we care about this, particularly for the younger writers.”
Futterman said one of the worst developments for younger writers is the proliferation of mini-rooms — speculative work settings where writers are hired to hash out stories and scripts for an idea that may or may not get picked up for production, or for a second season.
“This issue of mini-rooms has been ridiculous,” he said, “and I have been in several of them…The pay is absurd. It’s always low and you have to be the schmuck who’s trying to convince people to please come in the mini-room. By the time you’re done with it, they’ve moved on to another show.”
“And then that group that was in the mini-room gets no credit for the show even though it was instrumental in getting the show picked up that first season or second season,” Futterman said. “It’s a terrible situation. It’s unfair. And it’s union-busting.”
Futterman, who is married to screen and television writer Anya Epstein, with whom he co-write episodes of Gracepoint, also said, “It’s incredibly important to demonstrate to the studios…that we’re not bending. And when you look at the line and you see SAG-AFTRA out here, we’ve got Teamsters on the line, IATSE on the line, and we’re serious about this.”
At Steiner Studios, “every single gate has members out front, and mixed members from different unions,” he said. “We’re not going away.”