Dispatches From The Picket Lines, Day 59: Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin & Dolly Drag Queens Back Writers In L.A.

The Writers Guild of America strike continued Thursday with a demonstration at Netflix headquarters in Los Angeles that featured appearances by Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, as well as a slew of Dolly Parton drag queens on the picket lines.

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The event, put on by the WGA’s LGBTQ+ writers committee, was titled “Striking 9-5 Picket — A Dolly Drag Event.” Fonda, Tomlin and the real-life Parton starred in the 1980 comedy that scored an Oscar nomination for Parton’s chart-topping title song. The picket was organized by the film’s screenwriter Patricia Resnick, who also attended and spoke to the crowd that swelled to more than 400.

Fonda and Tomlin also starred in Netflix’s comedy series Grace and Frankie, which ran for seven seasons.

“If Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton and I were making 9 to 5 today, we’d be gig workers,” Fonda told the large crowd gathered on Van Ness Avenue. “Contracted out by one company to another — we probably wouldn’t know who our boss was. We wouldn’t know who to complain when there’s wage theft; we’d likely be working two to three jobs to make ends meet.”

Saying they were there as actors in solidarity with writers, Fonda shouted that “your fight is our fight. We share the same concerns. All of us need employers, studio executives, who earn such huge salaries, to rethink their business models.

“If writers who provide them content, and the actors who bring it all to life, are having a harder and harder time making a decent living, while … the executives can afford mega-mansions and yachts and fancy vacations, then their business model is not sustainable – and it’s certainly not humane.

After Fonda spoke, Tomlin told the picketers that based on “the description of the terms under which you are being asked to write now, it makes me wonder how they ever got any writers to work at all.”

She also quoted former MGM producer Irving Thalberg. “‘The most important people in Hollywood are the writers — without the writers we’ve got nothing’,” she said to applause. The she finished the quote: “‘We have to do everything to never ever let them find out.’”

Resnick noted that it was her fifth strike as a WGA member, saying the current one is “crucial because writing as a career is on the line.

As for the tribute to Parton, performances sprang up on the sidewalks along the picket-line route, with at least one rendition of “Why’d You Come in Here Looking Like That” as passing cars honked their horns.

The L.A. chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America provided tacos for the crowd.

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