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Stars come out for strike

Presidential candidate John Edwards, actress Sarah Silverman join picket line in front of NBC studios.

November 17, 2007|By Jeremy Oberstein

BURBANK — Politics collided with Hollywood as Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards joined striking writers on the picket lines Friday in front of NBC studios.

“We want to make sure everyone in the union has a fair chance,” he said to 600 picket-waving strikers and supporters. “Your brothers and sisters across all unions are in unison with you.

“Unions are the only way to ensure that huge corporate conglomerates don’t take over America. I’m proud to be here, and I’ll be with you every day when I’m president of the United States.”

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As Edwards spoke through a bullhorn, one supporter yelled, “You got my vote, John.”

Striking writer Cynthia Greenberg plans to support Barack Obama but said Edwards’ stop could help him in the polls.

“I’m not an Edwards supporter, but I’ve talked to so many people who said they are going to vote for him because of this,” she said.

Some bristled at the notion that Edwards’ stop deflected attention away from the strike and toward his campaign, while others thought it would help their cause.

“I don’t think it distracts us,” writer Scott Saltzburg said. “Having him here at an event like this helps to rally us.”

On Nov. 5, television and film writers from the Writers Guild of America went on strike after negotiations over royalty payments for DVD sales and a new pay structure for Internet media broke down.

Partly as a result of high-profile visitors like Edwards, the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers may be losing the public-relations battle, a recent survey found.

The Pepperdine University Graziadio School of Business released a poll Thursday that found nearly two out of three Americans side with the writers. Just 4% side with the producers, the survey found.

“We’re surprised that the level of support is so high,” said David Smith, an economist with Pepperdine who spearheaded the survey. “The writers have gotten the public on their side and have had a good campaign to get their message out through the media. Actors and celebrities have helped the cause.”

Sarah Silverman, star of “The Sarah Silverman Program” on Comedy Central, also joined the strikers at NBC. As she waved a sign that read, “AMPTP: I Really Hate You Right Now,” Silverman was shadowed by cameras and reporters.

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