Strike Worries Businesses Tied to Hollywood When script writers last walked out 20 years ago, the financial fallout from the five-month strike was measured in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and Southern California was hit hardest. This time, businesses that depend on Hollywood worry that the economic toll will be even greater.
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Strike Worries Businesses Tied to Hollywood

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Strike Worries Businesses Tied to Hollywood

Strike Worries Businesses Tied to Hollywood

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In Southern California, where most of the major studios are located, lots of people are worried the strike will put a huge dent in the economy.

NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports, you don't have to be a writer or a producer to feel the impact.


U: Network bosses, rich and rude, we don't like your attitude.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO: Among the people on the picket line outside Sony studios in Culver City this morning was Bill Martin, one of the writers on the TV show "Cavemen." He says the strike could affect scores of behind-the-scenes people.

NORRIS: In Los Angeles, you know, it affects tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people. It's probably easier to try to find professions that aren't affected.


DEL BARCO: Culver City is home to two major studios and is a place where film classics such as "The Wizard of Oz" and "Gone with the Wind" were made. These days, Sony produces everything from TV's "Jeopardy" to the latest Indiana Jones' sequel. But it's just a small part of a big business in Southern California. [POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: The latest Indiana Jones sequel is being produced by Paramount, not Sony.]

NORRIS: This is the entertainment capital of the world.

DEL BARCO: Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is a former labor organizer who's been encouraging the two sides, writers and producers, to get together.

NORRIS: So make no mistake, this is - it's going to have an impact on the economy of Los Angeles, on jobs in front of and behind the camera, and have an impact throughout the industry.

DEL BARCO: In fact, the motion picture and TV industry is L.A.'s third largest employer, after international trade and tourism. Jack Kyser heads the L.A. Economic Development Corporation.

NORRIS: So you're having janitorial services, trash removal; you operate commissaries, and so you're buying food stuffs. If you go out into the greater industry, they're running equipment - the cameras, sound equipment - they're having sets built, they're having set stored. They have parties, so caterers and limo drivers will feel the impact. It's going to be a huge ripple impact.

DEL BARCO: At the Coffee Conservatory across from Sony Studios, cafe owner David Trysbat(ph) remembers the last ripple effect from the 1988 writers' strike.

NORRIS: They were given up cars. Another is they're, you know, is house payments. Here, you go from maybe caramel, you know, extra shot latte down to a regular cup of coffee.

U: Let's roll sound.

DEL BARCO: On location for a Disney commercial, Michael Marr worried about the impact on his business. He's the owner of Hollywood Honeywagon, which supplies vehicles for makeup and dressing room trailers and trucks.

NORRIS: My contingency plans are that a couple of people might have to be laid off, sadly. But when it's low, I'm just going to encourage people to, you know, go and take the day off. Yeah. We've got some slow times ahead. I just pray it doesn't last too long.

DEL BARCO: Marr also prays that he won't have to sell off a piece of property up north he's been saving for retirement. He says he's wife, a costume designer, and many of their friends in the business are very nervous.

Grumblings about the strike can be heard far from Hollywood, at a ranch in Canyon Country, north of L.A.

NORRIS: Those are African lions. It's our pride of lions. And I guess now you know what they think of the strike.

DEL BARCO: Can you translate it?

NORRIS: Not a good idea.

DEL BARCO: At Hollywood Animals, Eric Weld trains dozens of lions, tigers and grizzly bears who work in films and television.

NORRIS: I'm sure we are going to be affected to a degree, but we're not going to miss, you know, the animals aren't going to miss a meal because of it, nor are the trainers.

DEL BARCO: Weld says his company will get through the strike with other work on photo shoots and with its animal training school. He jokingly suggests that his animals step in to resolve the strike.

NORRIS: When it comes to lions, they get whatever they want. They could negotiate quite easily because you just lose one of the parties quite quickly. So...

DEL BARCO: Mandalit del Barco, NPR News.

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