At a rally outside Paramount on Wednesday morning, Harold & Kumar duo Kal Penn and John Cho made a surprise appearance to pump up a massive group of SAG-AFTRA members.
“We were just in the back, here to support and they asked, ‘Do you want to come up?'” said Penn, with Cho adding, “It was like a scene from one of our struck works.”
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Penn, who worked as an associate director in the White House Office of Public Engagement during the Obama administration, called out the AMPTP’s hiring of a “progressive DC PR firm.” At the end of August, THR reported that the AMPTP hired The Levinson Group, run by Molly Levinson, a former political director at CNN and CBS. “You know the work we are doing with our union and our sister unions is working if they are taking steps like that,” said Penn.
Cho concluded, yelling, “We have the munchies for a fair deal!”
They were among the speakers who joined a newly re-elected SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher, who implored union members to stay strong amid the ongoing work stoppage, with the strike now in its ninth week.
“Hang in and do not give up, because this is the moment that is going to change the future,” said Drescher from a stage set up outside Paramount’s Bronson entrance.
Drescher also called out the “growing greed” of the AMPTP companies “that keep cannibalizing other businesses to become more and more powerful and more and more connected to Wall Street than they are to the foundational contributors of the business.”
Billed as a “Solidarity March”, SAG-AFTRA members and their supporters marched from Netflix’s Hollywood headquarters south along a closed Van Ness Ave. to the rally located outside Paramount, where the crowd stretched along Melrose Blvd. An LAPD officer told The Hollywood Reporter that they were expecting over one thousand at the event, which lasted for several hours and included people lined up on the sidewalks in addition to the street.
Jean Smart, who was among the speakers that also included Jon Cryer, Sheryl Lee Ralph, and NAACP president Derrick Johnson, told the crowd to reach out to Entertainment Community Fund if they are struggling financially. The Fund said on Sept. 6 that it had distributed $6 million in aid since the beginning of the WGA strike.
Speakers also repeatedly referenced interim agreements, which have been presented by the union as a way to keep non-AMPTP projects, namely independent features, up and running — while also keeping union members employed and showing the studios that the entertainment business can continue without them. The agreements have come under more scrutiny as of late amid the fall film festivals, such as Venice and Toronto. Some talent, such as Adam Driver and Jessica Chastain, have voiced their support for interim agreements, while other performers have said they will abstain from promoting or working on all projects until a deal is reached.
“Promoting interim agreements projects is a vital part of [the union] effort,” said SAG-AFTRA secretary-treasurer Joely Fisher, also newly re-elected. She also noted her and the union’s attempts to get state legislation passed that will have striking workers receive unemployment benefits.
From the stage, Drescher re-iterated the need to hold the line. Said the union president: “If we don’t get a piece of that pie, then what are we doing?”
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