How A WGA Hit Squad Is Shutting Down Hollywood One Shoot At A Time

Writers and their supporters walk the picket line Wednesday outside Disney Studios in Burbank Robyn Beck / AFP via Getty Images

EXCLUSIVE: The writers are organized. There have been thousands of writers picketing outside of the traditional Hollywood studios from Disney, NBCUniversal, Paramount, Sony and Warner Bros. as well as the tech upstarts Netflix and Amazon.

But Deadline understands a more low-key operation is in place to target specific locations across LA that are being used for filming in order to shut them down and wreak havoc on the studios’ bottom line.

We hear the team has managed to stop production on series such as Disney+’s Marvel drama Wonder Man and Apple’s Maya Rudolph-fronted dramedy Loot.

How did they do it? Ostensibly, with two people each holding picket signs. Under labor laws, that’s all that’s required for an official picket line, which in turn means that the other unions, from IATSE to the Teamsters can refuse cross the picket line.

Last week, Wonder Man, which stars Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as the titular character, was shooting in Hollywood and the squad managed to disrupt proceedings. Then on Monday, the show, which was created by Destin Daniel Cretton and Andrew Guest, was filming at CBS’ Radford location, where again they were met by picketers. Given that the series was originally planned to shoot through August, one would imagine it may get hit again.

Similarly, Loot was filming in Beverly Hills and once a picket line was put up, others refused to cross it and star Maya Rudolph, whose writing credits include Maya & Marty and Sarah Cooper: Everything’s Fine and is married to writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson, refused to go on set.

“The message that we’re hearing loud and clear is all the other unions in town have our back, they want to support us. I don’t think they’re afraid anymore,” said one WGA member. “This is really sending a message to the powers that be at the companies that when the WGA strikes, production shuts down. And not just in LA and New York, but everywhere.”

They’re now encouraging others who live outside of LA and New York to do the same when they spot television and movie locations.

“The hope is that there’ll be a husband and wife writing team in New Orleans that decide to do something or two brothers in Georgia that do the same. All it takes is two people with signs and it could potentially cost the studios thousands of dollars,” added the source.

“The goal isn’t necessarily to cost the studios money, but to get them to come back to the table and negotiate in good faith. They’re not going to do that if they don’t think they need us.”

The guild is also now hoping that others will start sending in tips if they see a location pop up.

“The more people that want to give tips to the WGA, the better, people helping us, on the inside, on the outside from people living in the neighborhoods. We’re hoping that people involved in productions or who hear about them through various ways will start tipping us off,” added the source.

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