World and Nation

Thousands of Movie and TV Writers On Strike Over Stake in New Media

Hollywood writers took to the sidewalks, if not quite the streets, Monday, as last-ditch bargaining failed to avert the first industrywide strike in more than 19 years.

Just after midnight, about 12,000 movie and television writers represented by the Writers Guild of America East and the Writers Guild of America West went on strike against Hollywood producers represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

Picket lines went up at more than a dozen studios and other production sites on both coasts. And at least a handful of television shows — including the CBS series “The Big Bang Theory” and “Two and a Half Men” — quickly shut down.

But it was not immediately clear how much damage the writers’ actions would inflict on a sprawling industry that performs its labor in thousands of workplaces in America and abroad.

At the Fox lot in Los Angeles, about three dozen picketing writers were still getting the hang of things at 9:30 Monday morning. “Who’s got the power?” a strike captain bellowed through a bullhorn, as the answer mostly got lost in the traffic sounds on Pico Boulevard.

They laid in bottled water by the case, and came equipped with BlackBerries and backpacks for what promised to be a long day in the sun once the morning fog burned off.

Yet studio vans, transportation trucks and construction vehicles freely crossed the picket line as Fox shows like “24,” “My Name Is Earl,” and “Prison Break” remained in production, at least for the moment — perhaps quelling the writers’ hope that a strong show of support by Hollywood’s blue-collar workers would heighten the strike’s effect.

In a telephone interview shortly afterward, J. Nicholas Counter III, president of the producers’ alliance, said he expected the strike to be a long one.