The Hollywood strike is rewriting the holidays for idled workers.
With her income pinched, script supervisor Petra Jorgensen canceled an annual trip to Europe to see relatives. Set decorator Laura Richarz is bypassing pricey malls and fashioning gifts at home — framing photos, sewing a shirt for her niece.
With the holidays under way and the strike entering a sixth week, "It's going to be bleak for a lot of families," said Jorgensen, who's living off her savings.
The two were among hundreds of out-of-work employees and their supporters who marched down Hollywood Boulevard Sunday to call for a resumption of talks to settle the strike, which has sidelined many prime-time and late-night TV shows. Negotiations collapsed Friday between the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, with the sides pointing fingers at each other.
The march Sunday was intended to draw attention to the financial plight of workaday Hollywood — those employees whose jobs depend on ongoing productions, from caterers to set builders to hair stylists. With shows silenced, they too are struggling.
Marchers expressed growing frustration with the on-again, off-again talks, and fingers were pointed at producers and union writers. A central issue has been compensation for new-media distribution of work by guild members.
Pam Elyea, whose Los Angeles company, History for Hire, provides props for TV and movies, was forced to lay off six employees as expected work evaporated. If the walkout continues, she said, more could follow.
"I'm disappointed in both sides," Elyea said.
The writers guild represents 12,000 members, but not all are on strike. About 2,000 news writers and others are covered under a separate contract.
Studios believe they can hold out for months — a stalemate that could impact the regional economy along with the entertainment industry. Hollywood contributes an estimated $30 billion annually to the Los Angeles County economy.
Diana Valentine, a script supervisor for the FX drama "Nip/Tuck," said she has been off the job since Nov. 21 and her husband is an out-of-work actor. She said both sides need to be talking.
"You cannot come up with a deal if people are walking away from the table," she said. Without a paycheck soon, "I'm going to have to start renting out parts of my house."