The ARROW Writers and Cast Reunite to Picket—and Raise Money for Charity—in Support of WGA and SAG-AFTRA - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

The ARROW Writers and Cast Reunite to Picket—and Raise Money for Charity—in Support of WGA and SAG-AFTRA

August 11, 2023 by  

Arrow strike

Photo credit: Marisa Roffman/Give Me My Remote

The ARROW cast and writers reunited on Friday, August 11 at the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank to draw attention to the dual WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes…and raise money for crew members in need.

“As soon as SAG went on strike, me, [fellow former ARROW showrunners] Marc [Guggenheim], and Wendy [Mericle] decided that we wanted to do something and we wanted to make a difference, just like ARROW made a difference,” Beth Schwartz tells Give Me My Remote. “We wanted to do something with donations; there’s been a lot of food trucks [on the picket lines; one on Friday was donated by ARROWverse executive producer Greg Berlanti], which are amazing, but we really wanted to give back to the unions that are suffering during this.”

“We wanted to actually use our dollars to generate more dollars,” Guggenheim says. “So we took the money that we were going to spend on a food truck, and we put it into getting these custom hats made. And we’re selling them for donations to The Union Solidarity Coalition, which provides health care to out of work crew members.”

Arrow strike

Photo credit: Marisa Roffman/Give Me My Remote

In addition to the ARROW hats, they also had collectible items up for auction, including a show-themed duffle bag, cups, a signed script cover, and a special lunchbox. (Seasons of the show were also available on Blu-ray and DVD.) 

The group chose that particular strike-centric charity because of a special tie to the show: “[TUSC] was created in part by Tara Miele, who is one of our longtime ARROW directors,” Guggenheim says. “That seems like a very good organization to benefit.”

According to Guggenheim’s Substack post in the hours after the event, the hats and swag raised nearly $1800 for the group.

Arrow strike

Photo credit: Marisa Roffman/Give Me My Remote

The showrunners were joined by ARROWverse stars including Katie Cassidy, Caity Lotz, Juliana Harkavy, Willa Holland, Kirk Acevedo, Brandon Routh, Katrina Law, and Charlotte Ross. (David Ramsey also FaceTimed in.) And former LEGENDS OF TOMORROW executive producer Keto Shimizu—a regular on the picket line, who also served as a writer on ARROW—also came to show her support. 

 “It’s all about coming out to support our union and letting the other side know that the union has our full support and that we’re all behind this,” Lotz says. “SAG hasn’t struck since 1980. This is obviously not something we take on lightly or some card we pull all the time. It’s so important right now, and they’re really not understanding what’s going on. It’s kind of like we’re fighting for the lower class and the middle class of our industry. A lot of this is about raising our minimum, so it’s our minimum wage—and what they’re offering is not keeping up with inflation.”

“People think that actors have this glamorous, really rich life,” she continues. “But that’s a very, very small percentage and most everybody is job-to-job. And things like the residuals, those are things we live off of. Those residuals also count for earnings on our healthcare. If you lose your healthcare, it’s not just you—it’s your partners and family. With streaming, you can’t reach any kind of healthcare [minimums] with streaming. It’s literally cents. It’s not something that we can just take it on the chin. we will not be able to survive unless they come to the table with livable wages and protections.”

“I think we all need to support each other—writers, actors, need to stand in solidarity—to hopefully regulate and put a cap on AI,” Cassidy adds. “I think residuals are a big important thing, and obviously with the writers, everyone’s working really hard and deserves to earn pay for their work.”

Acevedo compares the inequality between the studio execs and the writers/actors to sports teams and the players, which has a better balance of spreading the riches. “What’s our split?” he asks. “We have executives—network and studio executives—who are getting $50 million a year. They get fired, they get rehired—like [Disney boss] Bob Iger. And then they have umbrella payments, stock options when they get fired. What happens when I get fired? I don’t work. Why do their kids get to go to the best private schools, have multiple million-dollar homes, off of our backs? Off of the writers’ words. Off of the actors’ interpretations of those words. It’s not fair.” 

“I’ve done 250 hours of television,” he continues. “I’ve been in films that grossed $800 million. I have been on shows that won Golden Globes, Emmys; I’ve been nominated for Drama Desk awards. I’ve exceeded at every f—ing level. Why is it so hard for me to make a living? People don’t know what the f— Bob Iger looks like. They know what I look like. They know what I sound like. If I’m jobless, I’ll be jobless and that guy that they know. Meanwhile, Bob Iger…your product is who? Why does he get that amount of money? The disparity is ridiculous, economically.”

Arrow strike

Brandon Routh and Keto Shimizu. Photo credit: Marisa Roffman/Give Me My Remote

Routh, who went on to star in LEGENDS OF TOMORROW post-ARROW, acknowledges the pay imbalance is also compounded when you’re filming away from home. “When I first got on LEGENDS OF TOMORROW, [the studios] paid for one flight up there—one flight up there and then one flight home the first year,” he says. “And then for the other five years that I was on that show, technically, they didn’t have to fly me up there or pay for the flight up there. And I don’t think they did. Usually, I drove my car, which I had to pay for. They gave me $5,000 to relocate for one year; all the other five years was on me to pay for my apartment [to use during the season], for my car, transportation—because they didn’t drive me to and from set, because they called me a local in Vancouver; I’m an American citizen, but I was a ‘local,’ and had to drive myself to and from set and pay for all of my everything. So that’s not okay.”

“That’s a huge [amount of money]; that’s cutting into everything,” Routh continues. “So that’s happening to everybody. It’s been happening for a couple of years. And this strike that’s happening now, standing up for ourselves, could have happened 10 years ago. It should have happened 10 years ago. But we’re at this moment now.”

Routh also cites “humane treatment for artists” as the reason he came out to picket. “Everybody knows the system is messed up—[there’s a] disproportionate distribution of wealth and also care and humanity. This is about strength, this is about SAG, this is about the union. It’s about respecting individuals…People at the top [of the acting world] won’t benefit, really, from this at all. This is about everyone else who helps support it. There’s a huge spectrum of actors that participate in this medium. And we need everybody; everybody is absolutely important, from background talent to stunts to dancers to stand-ins to co-stars and guest stars and the leads. It’s everyone. We’re tired of being treated like pawns on the chessboard. We’re here, saying, ‘We have lives, we have families, and there’s enough to go around for everybody. Especially because we help make your content and make you the money.'”

Acevedo points to residuals being “pennies” as a big problem this negotiation round, as well as the looming question mark of AI. “AI is a huge issue for background [actors], because you own their likeness for eternity?” he says. “So what happens if that person becomes famous? Do they have to pay to get back their likeness? For me [in these negotiations], it’s pay, pay, pay. A number of different things. But, obviously, AI is a huge issue.” 

“Just salaries across the board have to go up, because inflation is so high,” he continues. “Milk is $5; bread is $5. You want to give us a 2 percent increase? That’s not even an increase for general inflation. It’s a multitude of things. Not only that, we audition for things that are already cast. You want me to give you 15 pages [of audition material] in one day—it’s already cast! You want me to bust my ass, be off-book; it’s just not fair.”

Arrow strike

Beth Schwartz and Marc Guggenheim manning the merch tent. Photo credit: Marisa Roffman

The reunion also served to remind everyone how shows can be made. “ARROW was a show that represented the old way of doing television; it’s network television,” Mericle says. “I think in this moment, where we’re realizing what the economics are and how streaming is not really working, it felt really important to me, and Beth and Marc as well, to bring everybody back and celebrate that accomplishment. Shows like that are really hard to come by now. It makes me even more grateful to have had that experience. It’s been really inspiring.”

“I was around for the 07-08 [WGA] strike, and the difference between then and now is there is a lot of support,” she continues. “And I think people across the country, there’s a labor movement that is happening right now. We’re a part of it. It’s sort of exciting for me to be a part of it, and to know that this larger movement is happening. So the message I would say to fans is we see you and we so appreciate you support and see us. We’re all in this together, because we really are. There’s too much income disparity. It’s just not working for anybody, and we need to take the power back.”

Of course, the show has made headlines in recent weeks, as former series star Stephen Amell derided general strike efforts at a panel (in a video that went viral), noting that though he supported the union, “I think that it is a reductive negotiating tactic, and I find the entire thing incredibly frustrating.” (Amell has since attempted to clarify himself on Instagram.)

While Amell wasn’t at the Los Angeles-based reunion, he did join the picket line in New York. (Where he was seeing former ARROW star Colin Donnell’s new play.) “You know, I spoke with Stephen last night; we had a really lengthy, very nice conversation,” Guggenheim says. “I think he feels that his comments were misconstrued…he was picketing Warner Bros’ Discovery this morning. So I think good on him for either correcting his remarks or changing his mind. Either way, he’s out now and I think that’s what’s most important.”

Mericle, who has also been attending other labor rallies, including a recent Teamster event, notes that some people have stereotypes of what they think unions represent. “I know a lot of people, historically, from this country—and I know he’s Canadian—have a negative view of unions,” she says. “And they have, really, since the ’80s. And my hope would be that he would rethink that position and see there is a very grounded, valid reason for us to be here. A lawyer said to me years ago, ‘If labor ever goes on strike, it’s because that’s what management wanted.’ This wasn’t our choice. They weren’t hearing anything we were asking for. To Stephen’s point about a negotiating tactic, this was the only tactic we have.”

Acevedo, who was candid on social media after Amell’s comments initially made headlines, has a slightly different take: “He spoke from a place of privilege. Most of our union…what’s the number of people where the only thing they do [for their income] is act? Probably less than ten percent? He’s that one percent. He’s working right now. I’m not working right now. He spoke from a place of privilege. The reason why we’re striking is because the economics are unfair. Your background on your show, buddy? They want to own their likeness for eternity. He doesn’t care. Only a person that doesn’t care would say what he said. Because he comes from a place of privilege. So, f— him.”

Arrow strike

Beth Schwartz and Marc Guggenheim with a fan. Photo credit: Marisa Roffman/Give Me My Remote

Amell’s comments didn’t deter fans from making the trip to Burbank, though, with the showrunners and stars posing for photos with their supporters amidst the picketing…including one fan who went above and beyond to make show-themed signs.

“We’re really grateful for the fact that ARROW has always had such a sense of community about it,” Guggenheim says. “We are a family on-set and off-set. And our extended family is the fans themselves. We always say there wouldn’t be ARROW, certainly not eight seasons of ARROW, if not for the fans. The fact that people are willing to come out here, show their support, spending their dollars that really means a lot.”

Adds Schwartz, “Honestly just seeing how much the fans still love the show so much—that’s what this is all about. That’s what we’re writing for.”


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