The BATTLESTAR GALACTICA Team Reunites to Support the WGA and SAG-AFTRA Strikes—And Express Concern About AI
September 21, 2023
Note: the article has been condensed to only report Mary McDonnell, to read the full click on the source link.
The cast and creative team reunited for a BATTLESTAR GALACTICA picket outside of the Universal lot on Thursday, September 21, as the studios met with the WGA negotiating committee for the second straight day.
The reunion was organized by Kristine Huntley (LEGEND OF THE SEEKER, TWO SENTENCE HORROR STORIES), a lot coordinator at Universal. “We’re always looking for ways to bring a lot of people to our gates—we don’t have the SAG presence here, so we try to think of fun, special pickets that can bring people and get them excited to come out,” Huntley says. “We’ve got a really incredible turnout.”
Huntley gathered memorabilia from other writers—scripts, crew shirts and jackets, storyboards; a shirt and WGA picket sign were signed by the actors and writers who attended the reunion—and spent the morning selling $5 raffle tickets benefiting Green Envelope Grocery Aid Fund. (After the tickets were done being sold, Huntley estimated they raised hundreds of dollars.)
“Standing together means supporting each other,” Cofell Saunders says. “Means donating money, donating our time or effort—anything we can do to support each other. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t think about all of the crew, all of the hard-working craftspeople, all of the amazing artists that are put out of work because of the strike. That’s why we have to support the Green Envelope Grocery Fund. Because if we don’t, if we’re not here for each other, then what are we doing?”
The reunion brought out BSG stars Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, James Callis, and Sam Witwer, as well as writers including David Weddle, Carla Robinson, Bradley Thompson, Jane Espenson, Mark Verheiden, and Michael Taylor.
“This is an industry where we work long hours,” Mary McDonnell adds. “Where we miss life events to be at work. Where storytelling for human beings, reflecting the human experience, is central to our existence. We need protection. We need help. We need help moving forward. We need top to bottom collective understanding of this amazing thing that we get to do. Nobody’s complaining about having to go to work. People just need to be able to live a decent life. It’s about dignity. I also think it’s a powerful thing, where I do think this will redefine where we’re headed. It could be potentially extraordinary.”
McDonnell notes that people outside of the industry seem to understand what’s at stake this go-round. “[The strike’s issues] have broken through to the American public,” she says. “The American public no longer thinks that everyone in Hollywood is a billionaire, or a millionaire. I’ve had people stop me in towns and cities and said, ‘We had no idea how hard you work, how little money you work for. What is going on?’ And I say, ‘It’s an industry. We’re like the automotive industry; we don’t get paid that much. We’re just workers.’ This is art. We’re not these people up in these glass houses. There are some people at the top—many of them, totally supportive of this strike. But I love that America, at least, is understanding [what’s going on], and I think that is going to be a profound difference.”
McDonnell also praises fans—many of whom came out to the picket with BSG-appropriate signs and outfits—for being “remarkable” amid the SAG-AFTRA limitations on what actors can talk about during the strike. (Actors are not permitted to promote the characters they played, or the shows or films they appeared in—outside of certain projects that received waivers—for the duration of the labor action.)
“They’re doing whatever they can, because we can’t promote anything,” she says. “So on Twitter and Instagram, the fans keep moving the thing forward. There are a lot of fans here today to support the show we cannot mention—you know, the one that was in the sky. We have always felt that support, particularly with this show, because we do conventions and we go all over the world with this show.”
“What I found is that when I first started doing [conventions], I was very shy,” she continues. “And I thought, ‘No, this might not be for me.’ But beloved Michael Hogan, he said, ‘Come on, McDonnell, you like football, don’t you?’—I grew up in a football house—’Just think of this as a giant tailgate for geeks and smart people.’ As soon as he said that, I turned around and looked at everybody and went, ‘That’s perfect. It’s a giant tailgate for geeks and smart people.’ Not that people who watch football aren’t, but you know what I mean. We have met some of the smartest people at conventions. The fans are everything, really. And the fans need to know what we’re dealing with. So this is really a nice connection.”
“People are striking for things all over the world right now, marching for their rights, fighting for democracy,” she concludes, noting the recent documentary Ukraine SUPERPOWER was “so deeply inspiring.” “So why doesn’t this industry move forward, so we can all celebrate that we’re creating a new world that’s vibrant and open to storytelling that we’re going to need?”