Rep. Adam Schiff insisted on Thursday that entertainment industry workers be included in any coronavirus-stimulus package, telling industry trade website Deadline that the country was “even more in debt” to them because many people were at home watching television.
Schiff, whose district includes Hollywood and other parts of the greater Los Angeles area, outlined his case in an op-ed published by Variety.
He said the freelance and contract-work nature of the business made many in the industry unable to claim unemployment compensation and other benefits.
Much of the country’s economy has been stalled as governments order or strongly advise workers to stay home to curb the spread of the flu-like coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19.
Hollywood has not been immune to the trend.
Earlier this month, ticket sales in North America hit the lowest levels in over two decades, generating roughly $55.3 million between Friday and Sunday.
“And while that might bring to mind highly-paid movie stars, the reality is that the vast majority in the industry are working class, and they’re in jobs that make them ineligible for some traditional benefits,” he wrote.
“In California, New York, Georgia and other entertainment hot zones, freelance and contract workers are dealing with productions that are postponed, slowed or canceled altogether. This is an industry in crisis.”
Additionally, Schiff wrote a letter, signed by 36 other Democrats, to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a fellow Democrat from San Francisco, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from Bakersfield, California, insisting entertainment workers be included in any new stimulus package.
He told Deadline the nation was indebted to entertainment industry workers.
“And in some ways, we should be even more in debt because so many are finding solace and entertainment in watching their creative work product from home right now,” he said.
Schiff’s demand came three days before Democrats blocked a stimulus bill in the Senate on Sunday, arguing it was overly weighted toward corporate interests at the expense of healthcare workers, hospitals and state and local governments.
The $1.8 trillion stimulus bill is Congress’ third effort to blunt the economic toll of a disease that has killed at least 470 people in the United States and infected more than 35,000, leading state governors to order nearly a third of the nation’s population to stay at home.
Schiff’s plea followed a celebrity sing-a-long effort, in which various noted entertainers joined together to produce a “We Are the World”-like video, singing John Lennon’s globalist anthem, “Imagine.”
Actress Gal Gadot, the Israeli star of “Wonder Woman,” put together the video project and posted it to Instagram on Wednesday night, saying, “We are all in this together, we will get through this together.”
“Let’s imagine together,” she added. “Sing with us All love to you, from me and my dear friends.”
Among those who contributed performances were Will Ferrell, Natalie Portman, Jimmy Fallon, Zoe Kravitz, Amy Adams, Mark Ruffalo, James Marsden, Sarah Silverman and Maya Rudolph.