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Taking the WGA Strike to the Island’s Streets


You may have seen me wandering around downtown carrying my “Writers Guild of America on Strike” picket sign. You may have thought, “Hey look, it’s matinee idol Antonio Banderas!”

Nope . . . it’s just me, Donick. But thanks for thinking that. I totally agree that we both have the same boyish charm and devilish good looks.

You may have honked in support (which is encouraged) or like a lot of people you might have stopped and asked, “What is this strike all about?”

Let me try to explain in a way that someone on Nantucket might understand.

Scenario One

I am at the Old Mill and I want to get to the Stop & Shop for a bag of Cheetos and those Cheetos are really important to me because (1) I love how delicious they are and (2) I am super hungry (I blame The Green Lady).

But there is traffic. And so, there’s no way to get from here to there. In this scenario the bag of Cheetos is my TV writing career (a great metaphor if you’ve been following my work) and the intersection at the high school is Netflix and Amazon and the intersection at Five Corners is Apple, Disney and all the broadcast networks.

Just to be clear, those “intersections” are keeping me from being able to eat my metaphorical “Cheetos.”

Maybe that is too confusing. How about this:

Scenario Two

I am a seal who lives on Great Point. For 30 years now I have been happily enjoying the fruits of the sea, gorging on bluefish and lobsters. In return I bathe in the sun, look pretty cute and spend my days writing beloved TV shows like “The Simpsons” and “Parks and Recreation” (I may not totally understand how metaphors work).

Over the last five years or so net-sharx have showed up and reinvented the business! At first I thought: Oh cool, like in Jaws! (because everyone loves big blockbuster movies written by real Hollywood Writer’s Guild writers, even seals).

But then the sharx started taking bites out of me. At first it was my bottom feet flipper things and then next it was the lower part of my seal torso (whatever that’s called) . . . And then finally CHOMP . .  . right in half. So now I’m flopping around in the sand like some disturbing “graphic content” video on Nantucket socials with all my Cheetos spilling out.

In this scenario the “seal” is me and the “sharx” are…. Oh, you get it.

So besides keeping your Cheetos on the inside, what is the strike actually about? Well, It’s a pretty classic American story: people or profits. And don’t get me wrong. I love profits. Mo money, mo Cheetos. And, of course, we’re on Nantucket. We love money. We live BIG. Bigger boats, bigger third and fourth homes, bigger driveway gravel. Have you seen the gravel on Main Street lately? It’s out of control.

But as much as I love money, I also love people. And that’s what this strike is really about. The cool, funny, quirky, smart people who write the stories you love.

Over the last two weeks alone, right here on Nantucket, writers responsible for content like “The Jimmy Kimmel Show,” “Late Show with Steven Colbert,” “The Middle,” “The Simpsons,” “In the Heart of the Sea,” “Parks and Recreation,” “New Girl,” “Silicon Valley” and “Moneyball” have walked Main Street carrying signs.

They are painfully aware that while companies like Netflix and Apple have reported record profits and their execs have made pretty rad salaries, writers have seen their salaries steadily decrease, their residuals vanish and their ability to buy a home (forget third or fourth homes) disappear.

Just this week Netflix announced it would spend $2.5 billion on Korean content. Now I am all for content from all over the world. But writers are asking for only 2 percent of total profits. If Netflix invested a little more in good old-fashioned American made content the strike would be over tomorrow.

The great thing about striking on Nantucket is you never know what WGA member might show up: Sly Stallone, maybe, or Donald Glover? Just today I was sitting on a bench with the legend himself: Mr. Rogers. I gotta say though, he had a pretty far-off look in his eye and literally didn’t say a word. I think he must have been too choked up to speak until writers get a fair deal and we can all go back to work.

*Editor’s Note: This essay was written in the middle of July. Because of our printing schedule we have no way of knowing whether the WGA strike has ended by the time you read this in August.