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Working Class Hollywood Relying On Salvation Army For Food

From the Los Angeles Times

TV crew members still feeling effects of writers strike    

Many can’t find work with production down, and their bills are piling up. Some are facing foreclosure and bankruptcy. By Richard Verrier, Los Angeles Times 

 

The writers strike ended two months ago. But many in Hollywood remain on the brink. Some are at risk of losing their homes. Some can’t afford groceries. Others have filed for bankruptcy. Still others struggle to work enough hours to hold on to their health insurance.

TV Writers Need Salvation Army to keep from starving
Across Los Angeles, many crew members who work behind the scenes and on the sets of television shows and movies are still quaking from the temblor of the 100-day writers strike that shut down scripted TV production.
Blame the aftershocks. Networks have sharply curtailed the number of TV pilots this year, continuing a trend toward ordering fewer shows for the new season. 

The shows that did return are filming 20% to 40% fewer episodes. And in Los Angeles County, location permits for sitcoms and dramas since the strike ended have plunged 51% and 35% from last year, respectively, according to FilmL.A., which handles film permits.

Although hard figures are not available, union officials say that thousands of crew members who normally would be busy at this time of year are still idled because of the sharp contraction in television production. Some union locals report a quarter of their members are sitting at home.

Karen Hartjen is one. She can’t bring herself to open the utility bills lying on her kitchen table in Simi Valley. 

The 53-year-old assistant prop master has been out of work since early November, when a string of jobs on TV shows such as “CSI: New York” and “Medium” came to a halt after the writers walked out.

Although Hartjen is accustomed to earning $100,000 a year, she is now $10,000 in debt and her home is threatened with foreclosure. She has turned to her church and the Salvation Army for help with groceries. 

“I’ve been in this business for two decades, and I’ve never experienced anything like this,” Hartjen said. “I’m just fighting for my life.” 

[ click to read full article at the LA Times ]

Posted on April 28, 2008 by Editor

Filed under Culture Music Art, Los Angeles | | No Comments »