Monday morning a bunch of writers were about to picket Paramount Pictures when an organizer said, "We need someone to lead chants."
One writer asked "What chants?" to which another said, "Hey, we're writers." And within moments a third writer said, "OK, how about this one: 'Just what is it you don't get? We want our share of the Internet.'"
When wordsmiths walk in circles they're still pecking on their mental laptops. While there's been plenty of the old "hey, hey" and "ho, ho" coming from the picketers, members of the Writers Guild have tried to punch up tired old labor slogans. At Disney's Prospect Studio, "Hey Hey, Ho Ho, management can't write the show!"
In front of the CBS studios the writers did a play on the Amy Winehouse hit song "Rehab." It goes like this: "You tryin' make us do a rewrite and we say a no, no, no."
Venturing further into wordplay, the writers' chants have targeted corporate bosses. Fox's Peter Chernin. "Peter Chernin, what ya earnin'?" And the chief at CBS; "More Money, Les Moonves ."
And as the actors from "Grey's Anatomy " picketed in sympathy, the writers chanted "It's all right, it's OK, we've got all our friends from Grey's."
Many of the chants have worked over the theme of residuals and the Internet, one of the primary reasons the writers are pounding pavement, not keyboards. "Just how greedy can you get? They won't even share the Net!"
Show titles are fodder for chants. "If you are cheap, and you are petty, you won't get your 'Ugly Betty'!"
Some have adopted the style of a military marching cadence. "Lookin' fine, lookin' good, we're shuttin' down Hollywood."
And this one: "Up in the morning in the California sun, Gonna strike all day till the strikin's done."
Of course, without anyone from Standards and Practices vetting the material, some of the chants are not appropriate for prime time.
The best chants, like all good writing, are simple and direct. This one drowned out the action as producers tried to finish an outdoor shoot for ABC's "Desperate Housewives": "We write the story-a for Eva Longoria!"