Now that Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien — both WGA members — have announced they will be “reluctantly” returning to the airwaves without their writers on January 2nd, the WGA East and West is reminding everyone of its pre-approved “Strike Rules pertaining to Comedy/Variety”, which were sent to all comedy/variety shows prior to the strike. “These are the rules we expect all the hosts to adhere to if they go back on the air without their writers, who will still be on strike,” a WGA spokesperson says. Meanwhile, David Letterman’s Worldwide Pants continues negotiations for The Late Show and The Late Late Show starring Craig Ferguson with the WGA for that “interim agreement” that’s supposed to be a sure thing:
Here were today’s statements by the NBC late night hosts:
Jay Leno: “This has been a very difficult six weeks for everybody affected by the writers strike. I was, like most people, hoping for a quick resolution when this began. I remained positive during the talks and while they were still at the table discussing a solution ‘The Tonight Show’ remained dark in support of our writing staff. Now that the talks have broken down and there are no further negotiations scheduled I feel it’s my responsibility to get my 100 non-writing staff, which were laid off, back to work. We fully support our writers and I think they understand my decision.”
Conan O’Brien: “For the past seven weeks of the writers’ strike, I have been and continue to be an ardent supporter of the WGA and their cause. My career in television started as a WGA member and my subsequent career as a performer has only been possible because of the creativity and integrity of my writing staff. Since the strike began, I have stayed off the air in support of the striking writers while, at the same time, doing everything I could to take care of the 80 non-writing staff members on ‘Late Night.’
“Unfortunately, now with the New Year upon us, I am left with a difficult decision. Either go back to work and keep my staff employed or stay dark and allow 80 people, many of whom have worked for me for fourteen years, to lose their jobs. If my show were entirely scripted I would have no choice. But the truth is that shows like mine are hybrids, with both written and non-written content. An unwritten version of ‘Late Night,’ though not desirable, is possible – and no one has to be fired.
“So, it is only after a great deal of thought that I have decided to go back on the air on January 2nd. I will make clear, on the program, my support for the writers and I’ll do the best version of ‘Late Night’ I can under the circumstances. Of course, my show will not be as good. In fact, in moments it may very well be terrible. My sincerest hope is that all of my writers are back soon, working under a contract that provides them everything they deserve.”
At the end of the day, the WGA issued this statement:
“The AMPTP walked away from the bargaining table on December 7, rather than negotiate a fair agreement for writers. NBC forcing Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien back on the air without writers is not going to provide the quality entertainment that the public deserves. The only solution to the strike is a negotiated settlement of the issues. If the AMPTP won’t come to the table, then it’s time for responsible companies to come forward and negotiate a fair deal.”