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VIDEO: Production of US drama series ‘Evil’ stopped after Uganda’s Joseph Opio leads strike  

by Editorial Team
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By Alex Balimwikungu

Evil, an American supernatural drama television series, has wrapped up filming on Season 4 earlier than anticipated. This was after the set faced disruptions by picketing Writers Guild of Association (WGA) members on Friday, May 19, 2023.  

The Kampala Sun has learnt that although the production team initially attributed the early end to filming an unnamed actor’s temporary exit from the show, it was the Writers Guild, which represents 11,500 screenwriters, who led to the disruption. 

They were led by Ugandan comedian and Emmy-nominated writer Joseph Opio, who goes by Joe Opio, and other screen writers Jonathan Bines and Harry Cooke. The Writers Guild members on strike demonstrated near the production for over eight hours. 

The fourth season of Evil was commissioned to include 10 episodes. It remains unclear whether the early end to production will impact those plans.

Starlee Kine, a writer on Search Party and public radio producer, shared a photograph of striking Writers Guild members on Twitter.

 Kine details how the picketers disrupted the Evil shoot, claiming that production was shut down at about 1:00am.

 “A handful of us walking in a tiny circle cost them the day’s shoot,” Kine wrote. “We were told the producers were pissed. They kept the crew there for hours, sitting on the sidewalk. We felt the solidarity. We’ll win this whole thing,” she wrote.

In a video seen by The Kampala Sun, Opio is seen rallying the sizeable crowd.  

Opio, who left Uganda for Manhattan, USA in 2014, finding a niche on The Daily Show, where he has written over 1,000  episodes of the show, cries out over the exploitation of Writers Guild by production houses.

Opio, a qualified lawyer and certified accountant, who found his niche writing and performing comedy, says he doesn’t regret being one of the four writers whose picket line shut down production on Evil on May 19.

“When the video of our fun-size, but defiant picket went viral, some hailed us as ‘heroes’ online. But despite picketing from 5:00pm until 1:00am, we didn’t deserve that label. The real heroes that night were the Teamsters and IATSE crew who refused to cross our picket line. ‘Never crossing’ is coded in every Teamster’s DNA. But still, their solidarity was inspiring and eye-opening,” he said.

Opio continued: “They didn’t just buy us ice cream to keep our morale high, they also set up an impromptu DJ booth and asked to take our song requests. Even when producers tried to trick them into crossing by calling a crew ‘meeting’ inside, they refused to play ball. We would rather meet outside here on the street pavement.

You might wonder what motivated four writers who had never met before that night to march in a tight circle for eight hours straight.

According to Opio, the producers don’t want to accept the Writers Guild Association’s proposals.  

“If the producers accept the WGA’s proposals, it will cost them a penny here and a dime there. If the writers lose their nerve, it will mark the end of their industry. And by end, I mean the end,” he prophesised.

Opio reveals that the ongoing standoff between the WGA and the producers boils down to one ugly fact: Producers legit don’t believe writers have the right to exist.

Writers have seen their wages nosedive while budgets skyrocket. So, they are now asking for just 3% of the obscene profits producers reap from their labor.

But in response, producers swear the WGA’s “irrational demands” will cost money they don’t have.

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