With the joint writer-actor strike bringing Hollywood production to a standstill, a group of film and television celebrities are using creative measures to fundraise for out-of-work crewmembers. A series of listings posted to eBay by the Union Solidarity Coalition is offering film memorabilia and unique celebrity experiences to cover the healthcare costs of production crews affected by the WGA/SAG strike.
The Union Solidarity Coalition (TUSC), a charity that financially supports crews on Hollywood sets, has taken an active role in supporting workers that have been disrupted by the strike. The large-scale protest began with the Writers Guild of America in May after contract negotiations with production companies collapsed. Picket lines formed outside studio headquarters, with many writers citing the use of artificial intelligence in script writing as their primary concern. The Screen Actors Guild joined their writer counterparts in July, creating the first total work stoppage in Hollywood since 1960.
But as actors and writers hold out for fairer residual payment from streaming platforms and protections from AI replacement, non-striking production crews have been forced out of work as well, depriving them of income for the duration of the protest. “We want to acknowledge that what you’re going through right now is not easy,” a statement from TUSC’s website says. “We know when you refuse to cross our picket line, you risk being reprimanded, losing a day’s pay (or much more) and you have to go home empty-handed.”
To help provide healthcare coverage for crew members, TUSC created eBay listings auctioning off unique items like autographed scripts and collectibles, as well as props and memorabilia like Tom Waits’ fedora.
WE’RE SO EXCITED to announce the launch of our Union Solidarity Coalition Charity Campaign on @eBay!
Proceeds benefit our @MPTF crew healthcare fund for @IATSE @LIUNA @Teamsters 💪
AMAZING items from AMAZING people! Bid now ➡️ https://t.co/OsH8WP9KFD pic.twitter.com/igp7jd2Hwf
— The Union Solidarity Coalition (@tusctogether) September 12, 2023
However, the big-ticket items include unique and somewhat bizarre celebrity experiences, selling for thousands of dollars apiece. A few of these offerings are:
- Virtual coffee and conversation with actress, writer, and comedian Rachel Bloom;
- Virtual Hangouts with the casts of network shows like “White Collar,” “New Girl,” and “Bones”;
- “Parks and Recreation” actor Adam Scott walking your dog for one hour (provided you live in Los Angeles);
- A mural painted on the walls of your home by actress and comedian Lena Dunham;
- A pottery lesson with actress Busy Phillips;
- and a watercolor portrait of your dog from actor John Lithgow
Currently, the two highest bids have been placed for a custom song sung by the cast of the animated sitcom “Bob’s Burgers” ($7,000) and a sit-down dinner with actors Bob Odenkirk and David Cross ($9,300).
The auction stipulates that many of the in-person events require bidders to live in Los Angeles, New York, or London for the convenience of the actors involved. Winners will also be subject to background checks for safety reasons.
The Union Solidarity Coalition is planning additional fundraising efforts beyond the eBay listings in the coming months as the strike continues.