11/07/07 — Writers’ strike? It is hard to be too upset about this picket line

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Writers’ strike? It is hard to be too upset about this picket line

It might not be fair, but for some reason a picket line in Hollywood with the likes of NBC sitcom star Tina Fey carrying a sign just does not make your heart throb with sympathy.

The reason? The Hollywood writers union members are on strike for their piece of a big-profit pie — not to make sure they keep their jobs or to preserve health benefits for themselves or their company’s retirees.

This has been a rough year for unions, with many forced to take concessions to preserve jobs.

So while the hard-core union types might be all for supporting the entertainment industry’s continued pursuit of the all-mighty buck, the rest of us would just like the whining to stop and a few people to realize just how lucky they are.

The insane salaries that are paid to Hollywood types are justified by many because of the profits that are made by the companies that employ them. If a star makes $100 million for his or her studio, shouldn’t he or she be entitled to a commensurate salary?

But what bothers the rest of the world — and continues to be fodder for those who like to point out the hypocrisy of the Hollywood cares campaign — is that so few stars and studio execs share the wealth or even follow their own guidelines for living as a responsible citizen.

It would seem hunger could be wiped out in California — as would many other social ills across the country — if some of these people would surrender a third of their yearly take to a social fund for use by the rest of the country. No deductions, no skewing the income levels, just straight off the top.

That’s what they want all the rest of us to do — pay more taxes — so why can’t they?

That would, of course, lower Hollywood profits — and salaries on down the line.

And no more limousines, helicopters and shows about the stars’ searches for the perfect multi-million dollar multiple pool Beverly Hills home. They can conserve water, power, gas and electricity, just like the rest of us.

So while there might be a few stories about the writers’ strike — and some who might feel sorry for the lead writer on “The Tonight Show” — the rest of us will save our sympathy for the thousands of autoworkers who are struggling to keep their jobs or the retirees who are finding out that their benefits are not as ironclad as they thought.

And if the writers’ strike stretches on too long, perhaps these “stars” might remember what happened to the professional sports leagues that launched strikes.

Baseball was never the same again. People just don’t warm to this kind of action.

And writers should be wary as well. Reality TV is bigger than ever — and as they say, reality is better than fiction.

Published in Editorials on November 7, 2007 10:41 AM