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By Wendy Vapors , 5/5/00

Dc: This week, actors who star in tv and radio commercials went on strike against their employers, the ad agencies and their clients who make the advertisements that clutter up our media. Wendy Vapors reports.

(sfx: striking actors chanting)

Actors: 2-4-6-8! Better wages Taste Great!
Hey, hey, ho ho! Skip the talent, no show!

Gimme a script! Show me the goods!
Out of our hands and into the hoods!

Wendy: Early this week it was virtually impossible to get in the front door of Shallow, Shameless, Trite and Mercenary, a Los Angeles Advertising firm. Angry actors blocked the entrance so they could talk to the press about their problems.

(music: weepy)

Brad: Who am I? I am the you you want to be.
A hard working father of beautiful children who believe in the American dream. The dream that one day, dad will get ONE call to do ONE commercial … ONE commercial that can feed ONE family for ONE WHOLE year.
Sadly, for my family … that dream is dying.
Are you going to let it … fade away?
Call the agencies and the clients to say "The best and most real real people on TV are still the professional actors! Let's keep it that way!"
Pledge your support, so there can be Hope!

Wendy: That was commercial actor Brad Hijinks.
I asked Ted Shameless, president of the ad agency, to explain the strike from HIS perspective.

Ted: (condescending) Well, it's simple, really. Advertising has become too expensive. It's a labor intensive business, and it costs extra to keep it focused on the client.

Wendy: How so?

Ted: Well, Wendy, to make a TV ad, you need copywriters, who spend hundreds of hours creating brilliant material that is thrown out by the client. Then there are account executives who fawn over the client at fancy restaurants … and production people who haul expensive equipment to exotic locations to shoot fantastic images that impress the client, and of course the TV networks who sell the air time at prices that would bankrupt a small country, but not the client.

Wendy: Wow, that's a lot of people.

Ted: And upsetting the elegant balance of all of this are the unreasonable actors, who only communicate our message to the public.
That's all they do! Often they don't even meet the client!

Wendy: I thought there was more to it than that.

Ted: No! And in this very complicated business, which is all about writing and fawning and throwing things out and eating and traveling and charging lots of money … someone who only communicates …
I mean … we all communicate, don't we?
And If they're so good at it, how come their complaints about not having enough money haven't moved me, huh?

(sfx: street march)

Wendy: Meanwhile, the actors promise to stick together, hoping their strike will get the general public to put pressure on the industry to stop using non-union talent.
I asked some members of the general public to tell me what they thought about that, but their answers were either too boring or too incoherent.
So then I asked some of the picketing actors to play members of the general public, which they were happy to do.

Guy 1: I'm a big fan of prime time commercials. Big fan. If the faces change there, I'm gonna be real upset.

Wendy: (questioning) What's your favorite commercial?

Gal 1: It's been a few years, but the man in the rowboat in the toilet tank?

Guy 3: Oh, yeah, I loved that guy.

Gal 1: He made me believe. An amateur couldn't do that.

Guy 2: Are we talking about the toilet tank guy? I miss him.

Gal 1: Don't forget daytime commercials and those soup stirring moms!

Guy 1: Those moms were more my mom than my real mom.

Guy 2: Anybody can stir soup, but give a professional actor a spoon and an empty bowl, and she can make you taste it!

Wendy: Wow, you really had me going there! I thought for a minute I was talking to real people!

Guys and Gal: Glad you liked it, no problem, happy to help out, when will this be on?

Wendy: And so … television must continue forward without the famous faces and voices that make up so much of it's irresistible appeal. And we, as viewers, will be forced to suffer for the time being, frozen in front of our television sets, watching amateur actors not quite successfully pretending to be the people we most want to see on TV … ourselves.
I'm Wendy Vapors, and I'm reporting.

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