BOSTON- Scores of Boston University students turned their backs on the head of one of Hollywood’s biggest studios, and some chanted “Pay your writers” as he delivered the opening speech of the Hollywood Writers’ Strike on Sunday at a stadium where protesters supporting the Hollywood Writers’ Strike were picketing school held.
About 100 protesters chanted “No pay, no bellboys”, waved signs and were accompanied by an inflatable rat in front of Nickerson Field as Warner Bros. Discovery President and CEO David Zaslav delivered his address at the stadium. Thousands of graduates, families and educators attending the graduation ceremony had to walk past the protesters to enter the stadium.
A small plane flew over the stadium with a banner that read “David Zaslav – pay your authors.”
Kim Caramele, a writer and producer from North Stonington, Connecticut, said she hopes the presence of the protesters at the graduation ceremony will help give students a different perspective on what they should value in life.
“The writers who are here today can show students that wealth is something other than good,” said Caramele, an Emmy and Peabody award winner for her work on her sister’s show Inside Amy Schumer.
Inside the stadium, numerous students in red graduation robes stood up and turned their backs on Zaslav’s speech. Other students booed during his speech, shouting their support for the striking writers.
Zaslav, a graduate of the university’s law school in the mid-1980s, was a controversial candidate, and many graduates took to social media to voice their objections.
In a statement following the event, Zaslav said: “I am grateful to my alma mater, Boston University, for inviting me to attend today’s graduation ceremony and for awarding me my honorary doctorate, and as I have said many times, I am beyond grateful .” support the writers and hope that the strike will be resolved soon and in a way that they feel recognizes their value.”
Some 11,500 members of the Writers Guild for America quit their jobs in early May after talks over a new contract fell through, saying the rise of streaming had hurt their earning power. Since then they have not returned to the negotiating table. It’s the first writers’ strike — and the first Hollywood strike ever — in 15 years.
Among other things, the union is demanding a higher minimum wage, more writers per show and shorter exclusive contracts – all conditions which it says have been reduced by the streaming-driven content boom.
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers said it has offered “generous salary increases for writers, as well as improvements in streaming residencies,” including the highest salary increase in the first year of a WGA contract in more than 25 years, creating a new pay scale that will provide a new, higher minimum rate for mid-level authors.