November 21, 2007 at 05:24 AM EST

Five days before a scheduled meeting between the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and the Writers Guild of America – their first since the strike began – the writers staged a massive rally in Hollywood along the Walk of Fame. Three mammoth Teamster trucks led the mile-long parade today that began with a two-song performance by Alicia Keys on north Hollywood Boulevard and ended in front of the Mann’s Chinese theater. Crowd estimates ranged from 5,000 to 10,000 people, to say nothing of the hundreds of tourists who got to witness an actual Hollywood protest occurring in front of Ripley’s Believe it Or Not Museum.

The location was chosen for its proximity to the old Knickerbocker Hotel on Ivar Avenue where, WGA West President Patric Verrone told the crowd, 10 screenwriters met nearly 75 years ago to form a union “with teeth.” Today, he went on, “we are here to show our teeth. We want to smile, and walk down Hollywood Boulevard on a beautiful day.”

Among the picketers taking the mile-long stroll was Joss Whedon, who’s tried to hit the lines daily since the strike began on Nov. 5. He has mixed feelings about the talks set to resume on Monday. “It’s always a good sign that they come back to talk but that doesn’t mean there’s a deal. And that doesn’t mean the deal is a good deal. It’s very possible they feel pressure to make a show of good faith but they really haven’t moved on the issues we care about. I’m hoping that’s not the case. We’re prepared for the worst. I’ll keep shouting at the top of my lungs until they come out of the room and say they’re done.”

Three days before the strike began, Whedon struck a deal with Fox to create a new drama series called Dollhouse starring Eliza Dushku. He’s outlined seven episodes for the net but has yet to write them. “I’d love to make it. I couldn’t be more excited about it than if I were actually making it. But I turned that part of my brain off. I’m on strike.”

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