Would you rather have Lena Dunham paint a mural in your home or John Lithgow paint a watercolor of your dog? While this may sound like a bizarre Hollywood hypothetical, it’s actually a real choice you have, thanks to an auction meant to help workers affected by the ongoing writers and actors strikes.
What is the Union Solidarity Coalition, you ask? Well, it’s a charitable organization founded this year by Hollywood writers and directors who, per the group’s website, “were moved to connect with crew affected by the 2023 WGA strike.” As such, the Union Solidarity Coalition has set up an auction on eBay that allows regular folks like you and me to bid on fabulous, random, and fabulously random experiences with celebrities—like having dinner with Bob Odenkirk and David Cross, or having Adam Scott walk your dog for an hour (only if you’re based in LA). It’s also auctioning off Hollywood memorabilia, like an apron signed by Jeremy Allen White and other cast members of The Bear; a Weird Hawaiian shirt signed by Daniel Radcliffe and Weird Al; and a signed Atlanta script by Donald Glover that’s accompanied by a personal note and a signed vinyl record of Awaken, My Love!
“We founded TUSC because, as striking writers, we feel an incredible kinship with the crew (IATSE, LIUNA, and Teamsters) that make our jobs possible—and right now they are hurting, especially when it comes to health care,” said Dunham, one of the cofounders of the Union Solidarity Coalition, in a statement. All proceeds from the auction will go to the Motion Picture and Television Fund and then be distributed to below-the-line crew members in need, with a focus on crew members who have lost health insurance due to the dual strikes.
While the auction is obviously a charitable act, it’s also had the unintended effect of putting a monetary price on several specific celebrities and exposing the bidding public’s general interest in said celebrities. The current bid to have lunch in NYC with Emmy winner Ann Dowd stands at $1,125, but you’ll need to spend at least $2,800 to take a pottery class for two with Busy Philipps. (A travesty, because think of the thrill you’d get from hearing Dowd say the word “Hulu” over a Cobb salad in Midtown.) More people, it seems, would rather do the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle with Natasha Lyonne than get relationship advice from Rosemarie DeWitt and Ron Livingston over Zoom—so far. (DeWitt and Livingston are one of Hollywood’s most underrated couples, and the Sunday crossword is simply too difficult most weeks!) At a current price of $1,525, playing 20 questions with Sarah Silverman is already almost three times more expensive than playing the game with Maggie Gyllenhaal ($650). (Odd, because it feels like Gyllenhaal is more of an enigma than Silverman.) But hey, the public wants what the public wants.
The internet being the internet, onlookers have taken the eBay auction and run with it, creating many hilarious memes involving fake celebrity auction items. If you’ve been absentmindedly scrolling on the website formerly known as Twitter, you might actually think you can sit in silence with Nathan Fielder for an hour for $2,624 (and you know he’d actually do it). Or look into Hispanic heritage funds with Gina Rodriguez for $620 (mama, let’s research!). Or have Dakota Johnson lock you in a coffee shop (which would be an honor and a privilege) for $640.