Monday, November 19, 2007

I Almost Killed Joss Whedon! or Bravery I Do Not Have

True story. Just look at the fear in his eyes.

I didn't think I'd be able to make it over to Fox for Assistants Day during lunch, so I got myself up at 5 this morning and walked in circles.

At 6:15 or so, when I arrived at the studio, there was a line of trucks that were refusing to cross the picket line. Awesome, I thought. Good for them. Later, I learned that one of them was warned that if he didn't cross the line, he would be fired...and he didn't cross. I saw him driving up Avenue of the Stars and laying on his horn less than a half hour later, still loudly proclaiming his support.

I don't think I have that kind of bravery. I hope strike captains made sure to get his name. I hope that he can utilize the Union Solidarity Fund. This sounds similar to the idea I proposed recently, although theirs will likely work, whereas mine would probably kill babies and puppies. I have no evidence to back that up, but based on the amount of planning and research I put into it, I wouldn't be shocked.

When I got into work a little after 9, I realized that my chances of getting out for lunch were better than I had thought, so I emailed a friend in the area to see if he was interested in heading over to Fox...if I could get out.

He was.

My bosses were flying in from New York this morning, so they would get in late and immediately head to another building for meetings. I knew they would want me to order lunch, so I had to be quick getting their orders if I wanted to picket.

Luckily, they arrived a few minutes early and stopped by their office before the meetings, so I made with the hounding and squeezed orders from them before they slipped away. Rockin'.

Lunch taken care of, I called my friend and told him I was headed over to Fox, then started driving.

The studio was busy. Not as busy as the big rally, I'm sure, but I couldn't make it to that, so this was the busiest I've seen the place.

The main picketing circle of writers, which a few hours earlier was maybe 20 strong...had swelled to several hundred people. Two assistants set up a lemonade stand that more or less said:

"Fox gave us lemons, so we made lemonade. 8 cents, No Negotiations."


I picked up a sign and was about to join the line when a guy with a recorder asked me if I wanted to do an interview. Surprised and taken aback, I said sure. I don't even remember what I said exactly, but I felt like I was rattling off talking points:

"I'm supporting the WGA because I believe what they're doing now will benefit all writers--including me--in the future."

"The root of the argument is basically that they want us to work, but they don't want to pay us. That's something anyone can understand and get behind."

I'm sure I also rambled on about nonsensical stuff as well, and at one point I noticed The Whedon was walking a few feet in front of me and lost control of my motor functions, but hopefully he got a few nice little blurbs from me.

If you want to hear me, search for a radio station that has the call letters K, B and W. That's all I remember. And I'm less sure about the B and W, but there was definitely a K. Good luck. If you find it, let me know. He made me give my name, so ...there you go.

After that, I very slowly walked the picket line and my breath caught again as I noticed that Eddie was walking the line! Immediately I called Jul to rub it in her face that I had just seen her two favorite people (yes, even more than me; it's a sad reality) and she wouldn't be able to. We have a healthy relationship.

I made a very slow couple of rounds of the picket line before I was joined by my friend Emmett. You may remember him from my other Whedon encounter at Comic Con. Yes, that's Emmett in the Joker makeup. He had decided to one-up the idea I'd shared with him over the weekend: His strike sign not only read "Honk if you love justice!" he drew a (damn good) picture of The Tick on there as well. By our totally scientific poll, the number of people who like justice outnumbers the number of people who don't. I think this is probably a good thing. We trudged on.

After I surprised him with the knowledge that Ali Larter was picketing right behind us, we finished the picket loop and decided to cross the street (aka the Fox Pico entrance) because we thought we saw Joss on the other side. We were correct, but because he's Joss we weren't the only ones out to bask in his scruffy presence, so we just stood uncomfortably close while he was being interviewed and tried to solicit honks for justice. Overall, we were successful.

We'd planned on being all uber-geeky and annoying Joss as soon as he had a free moment, but much to our surprise, he actually called Emmett over because he noticed the sign and liked it. This allowed Emmett to talk about CBR and the mutual acquaintance they have in Brian Lynch. Which reminds me, I need to start working for CBR. Seriously. Which probably means I have to read a lot more comics than the two I currently read. Sigh. It's a lifestyle choice.

Because I am a weak tool, I did not follow Emmett and stood by myself until he called me over to introduce myself. I shook The Hand of Joss: "I'm Josh." "Joss," he said. Um, duh, I thought, but smiled.

It has to be weird to introduce yourself when you get to the point where lots of people know your name. I imagine you try to introduce yourself like a normal person and assume the other person doesn't know you, but there's a split second where you're weighing whether they know you or not, and probably expecting that they do, but you can't act too sure about it or you'll seem arrogant and...and I'm on a tangent.

So I ended up saying something lame about Jul interviewing Jane about the new book and mentioned Pink Raygun, and hoped that I didn't come across as trying to sell myself. Or even Jul, for that matter.

That's the weirdest thing about going out on the lines as a wannabe writer: I truly don't mean to approach this as a networking opportunity, but to a certain extent it's unavoidable. I either sit at home and do nothing and say nothing because I'm afraid of being perceived as someone who's only out there for himself, or I go out and support something I believe in and just say come what may. If someone specifically asks me about myself, I'm honest. Otherwise, I'm content to keep my head down and my sign high and put one foot in front of the other.

Whatever Joss thought, soon after he told us he had to take off. He shook Emmett's hand and zoomed toward the crosswalk because the light was about to change. As he left, he waved at me and I waved back...and I think he felt obligated to shake my hand, because he bounded back to do so, then had to run across Pico before cars plowed into him.

Really, Joss, me getting a second handshake from you is not worth you dying over. Really. I can't be responsible for that. I'd lose a lot of friends and quite possibly a fiancee.

A first handshake, however...

And that's the end of my strike experience. Until tomorrow, because there are still circles to be walked and signs to be hefted.


Emily Blake said...

It's awesome that with Ali Larter and Eddie Izzard right there you go nuts over a writer.

I wonder if he ever in a million years thought he'd get that famous.

Josh said...

I'd have to imagine you're right. One of the great things about being a writer is that you get to be a part of all these cool things and around people everyone in the world knows, but for the most part you can remain anonymous. And by anonymous I mostly just mean "able to go to the grocery store without paparazzi."

Though I have to admit, I do love hearing stories of how people like Jane Espenson are being surrounded by people on the picket lines.