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Now's your chance to solve a crossword puzzle with Natasha Lyonne

Natasha Lyonne, pictured here in November 2022, is one of several actors who's auctioning off unique experiences to support TV and movie crews impacted by the ongoing writers' strike
Tommaso Boddi
Getty Images for Vox Media
Natasha Lyonne, pictured here in November 2022, is one of several actors who's auctioning off unique experiences to support TV and movie crews impacted by the ongoing writers' strike

You know that moment when you've knocked out 12 of 73 clues for the New York Times crossword, you're starting to sweat, and you think to yourself, "Man, I really wish the Emmy-award-winning actress Natasha Lyonne of Orange is the New Black was here to help me power through?"

OK, so maybe it's not a scenario you've been dreaming about, but it could soon be your reality — that is if you have upwards of $2,100 to bid in a new online auction to support the ongoing writers and actors strike.

For the next eight days, those with big checkbooks can vie for a trove of celebrity experiences featuring some of Hollywood's most beloved names.

The auction is hosted through eBay and organized by the Union Solidarity Coalition, which is pledging to financially support crew members who lost their health insurance as the film and television industry ground to a halt this summer.

That means you could pay for Lena Dunham to paint a mural in your home (leading bid at time of publication: $3,050), for Bob Odenkirk and David Cross to take you out to dinner ($2,624) or for Busy Philipps to be your buddy at a pottery class ($2,800).

John Lithgow will paint a watercolor portrait of your pup ($4,050) and Adam Scott will take it for a one-hour stroll ($2,025). The cast of Bob's Burgers will write and perform a song just for you ($3,050) and the cast of The Bear is shelling out a sartorial boost in the form of a signed blue apron ($1,525).

You can also buy Tom Waits' fedora ($1,525), Brit Marling's OA wolf hoodie ($4,000) or a Hawaiian shirt co-signed by Daniel Radcliffe and "Weird Al" Yankovic ($1,600).

There's also a handful of one-on-one virtual hangouts with names like Maggie Gyllenhaal, Sarah Silverman and Zooey Deschanel (actually, with the whole cast of New Girl), promising everything from career coaching to relationship advice — a form of screen time more intimate than catching your favorite shows' new episode, a ritual the public has been sorely missing.

The Writers Guild of America first called a strike in early May and was joined bythe actors' guild, SAG-AFTRA, in July. (SAG-AFTRA also represents most of NPR's journalists, but under a separate contract.)

Both unions are fighting major entertainment studios for increased compensation, regulations for AI usage and terms for streaming. Negotiations are reportedly at a standstill.

The association that represents the studios publicly released the concessions they offered to writers ina press release on Aug. 22, which included a 13% increase in pay over three years and increases in some specific types of residual payments.

WGA described the offer as "neither nothing nor nearly enough" and full of "loopholes, limitations and omissions" that were "too numerous to single out."

SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher told NPR last week that the conversation couldn't move forward until the studio bosses put aside their financial greed and started acting with empathy.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Emily Olson
Emily Olson is on a three-month assignment as a news writer and live blog editor, helping shape NPR's digital breaking news strategy.

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