Celebrities on strike are fundraising with a fun charity auction

For the right price, Lena Dunham will paint a mural in your home.

“Indeed, Lena will spend an afternoon rendering a custom mural — you give her a subject and some coffee, and she will be on a step stool with her eyes squinted for hours, creating something you will enjoy having for years and years or until you move!” reads an eBay listing for an auction of various celebrity services and memorabilia to support workers affected by the Hollywood strikes. The highest bid for Dunham’s mural as of Thursday afternoon was $5,100.

If the “Girls” creator’s art doesn’t suit you, maybe you would prefer a pottery class with Busy Philipps (“Freaks and Geeks,” “Girls5Eva”), now going for $2,800. Or perhaps you would like Natasha Lyonne (“Orange is the New Black,” “Russian Doll”) to help you with a New York Times Sunday crossword, which will cost you at least $2,807.

Famous writers, actors and directors are offering up their time, treasures and lesser-known talents to raise money as part of the Union Solidarity Coalition, a charity that financially supports Hollywood crew members — whose work has been disrupted by months-long writers and actors strikes. The group is collaborating with the Motion Picture and Television Fund to accomplish its goal of helping cover health-care costs for unionized crew members.

Auction offerings range from signed scripts and swag — such as an apron signed by Jeremy Allen White and other cast members from “The Bear” — to creative celebrity experiences. Adam Scott of “Parks and Recreation” will be walking a winner’s dog in Los Angeles for up to an hour.

Big-ticket items include a watercolor portrait of the winning bidder’s dog from Emmy-winning actor John Lithgow ($4,050 and rising) and dinner with Bob Odenkirk and David Cross ($7,100 or more.) Musician Tom Waits’s fedora was going for a relatively modest $2,600 after dozens of bids — though the auction won’t end until Sept. 22.

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Some winners will have to be in New York or Los Angeles to redeem their prizes, but there’s a plethora of digital meetups, too: the casts of “New Girl” and “Bones” have each agreed to Zoom hangouts with winning bidders, while actors Sarah Silverman and Maggie Gyllenhaal have opted for 20-minute, 20-question ask-me-anything-style Zoom calls.

When guild writers went on strike in May and their actor counterparts officially joined them in July, several groups such as the Entertainment Community Fund began offering financial support for entertainment workers in need. A group of writers, actors and directors created the Union Solidarity Coalition to specifically support nonstriking crew members, as some have joined picket lines in solidarity, while others’ work and health-care coverage was involuntarily affected by the strikes.

“We want to acknowledge that what you’re going through right now is not easy,” the coalition’s website says. “We know when you refuse to cross our picket line, you risk being reprimanded, losing a day’s pay (or much more) and you have to go home empty-handed.”

In addition to the auction, the charity plans to host fundraising events to meet crew members and hear their concerns about the strike.


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