The TV and movie screenwriters’ strike is, of course, about significant issues: the value of labor in the digital age, the shifting paradigms of entertainment, the importance of Hollywood in the national discourse. But let’s not lose sight of what’s really important: celebrity sightings!
This morning I walked the block and change from my TIME office to the WGA picket site at NBC headquarters–30 Rockefeller Plaza–and one of the first strikers I saw on the barricades was 30 Rock’s Tina Fey. I buttonholed her for a pic (apologies for my inept photojournalism) and a couple quick questions.
Fey, obviously, was there not just because she’s a writer but because she’s a celebrity, and thus bait for suckers in the media like me. What does she say, then, about the perception that the strike is a battle between the haves and the have-mores?
“Yeah, to the outside eye, I guess this looks like some pretty lucky people arguing with some very lucky people,” Fey said. “We have dream jobs that most people would want to have. That doesn’t mean that it’s OK for the conglomerates that produce our shows to rip us off.” Rip-off, of course, is a subjective term, with the networks and studios arguing that the online distribution of shows–the money from which is the central issue of the strike–is still a financial question mark. Fey, unsurprisingly, doesn’t buy it: “These companies clearly smell that the Internet is where their future profits are coming from. If you look at NBC breaking off with iTunes and trying to start their own thing and raise the price, it’s because they know this is where the money’s going to be.”
As for where she’s going to be, Fey will be going back across the river to Queens for four more days of shooting on an episode of 30 Rock that there’s already a script for. Isn’t this at odds with her Liz Lemonian devotion to the rights of proletarian scribes? “NBC has made clear to me that I’m contractually obligated to show up as an actor,” she says. “We’re not doing any rewriting. We’re shooting what we have on the page.”
Then it’s back to the picket line, where this morning she was joined by the likes of The Daily Show’s British correspondent, John Oliver, and a whole slew of rubberneckers. TV’s loss is NYC tourism’s gain.