The ongoing strikes like the Writers Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA are causing financial issues for people at the bottom of the Hollywood ladder, particularly for the production assistants.
Considering the current circumstances, several cast and production members of the ‘Chicago P.D.’ have come forward to financially support the 13 set and office PAs working for the renowned NBC series pitching in to give each production assistant $1500.
Although the money was distributed one and a half weeks ago, a second payment is on its way.
This great initiative was taken by the First AD of ‘Chicago P.D.,’ Richard White, accompanied by stars Patrick John Flueger, Amy Morton, Tracy Spiridakos, Marina Squerciati, writer/executive producer Gavin Harris, executive producer/showrunner Gwen Sigan and writer/co-executive-producer Scott Gold.
Although Flueger donated when White approached him and discussed the situation before he left for a trip, Flueger reached out to White again upon returning and gave more money, the AD said. Promising to participate in the donation, fellow ‘Chicago P.D.’ cast member LaRoyce Hawkins asked for some time to deal with a personal matter.
White said he’d wait for that and then distribute each PA a second installment with the contributions of Flueger and Hawkins.
The funds after the second donation done by Flueger for the entry-level staffers at the Chicago-based Wolf Entertainment/Universal TV drama has increased to $25,000, according to White.
“They are a really good team of kids,” said White, who’s been on Chicago P.D. for the past three seasons, about the PAs who have worked on the show last season carrying out all sorts of duties from opening the sets in the morning, taking breakfast orders from everyone and doing lockups for sound and picture around Chicago and at the stages for the set PAs, to giving everyone their scripts, making sides and managing transport for the office PAs. “I had the idea, as the strike was going on, of trying to do something for them because I knew they would be the ones that really would be hurting the most.”
White also took this initiative because he knew how it felt when he experienced something similar in the 2007 – 2008 WGA strike at the beginning of his Hollywood career.
“I was a DGA trainee in New York, and I had just moved to LA in 2007 to work on Desperate Housewives; I was the base camp AD, I’d been working for about two and a half, three months when the strike hit.”
White told that he had worked for about another three days until Desperate Housewives ended the episode that was filming, and the production was halted for four months. He had to return to his home in North Carolina to stay afloat and save money.
The PAs of ‘Chicago P.D.’ discussed their issues with White, and he felt they were facing similar issues.
“Somebody’s computer broke, somebody’s car was at the shop and they were worried about whether they were going to get the money,” White said. “They’re not under health insurance plans or under a union, and they all still have Chicago rent to worry about, groceries and everything else.”
White also had this urge to help the PAs because they were not part of a union and already gained very little in the entry-level position, and this majorly limited their options for centralized strike financial help and unemployment benefits and further eligibility limitations for support staff outside LA and New York.
As the Writers Guild of America strike completes its Day 113 and the SAG-AFTRA Day 40, it isn’t easy even for higher-level crew members to persist, with virtually all the TV production — and most of the film production — being shut.
“I’ll tell you, every friend that I’ve spoken to in every department on a vast array of shows, everyone’s ready to get back to work,” White said. “There’s no one that I’ve spoken to who’s happy for this extended period of unemployment.”
With no end to this chaos in the foreseeable future, White encouraged the teams of films that had to shut down and the streaming shows and veteran network series that make 22 episodes a year like the other Wolf Film procedurals that have long-term relationships with their PAs to help.
He said that many PAs are starting their Hollywood careers without financial support during this strike; they may become disappointed and leave the industry.
“I don’t want them to have to give up on their dreams right away because they have now been hit with a major hardship,” White said. “My goal is to try and get publicity and see if other people are willing to step up to help out and do the same thing on their shows to their production staff.”