The WGA West is abandoning pickets at all other locations the rest of this week in order to focus on NBC Studios because Jay Leno returns to The Tonight Show tonight. But will the Secret Service contingent surrounding GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee allow the strikers to even get within the city limits of Burbank? The striking writers will start their four shifts of protests at 8 AM Pacific Time and continue until 6 PM. “Please come out to the lines and show NBC that they might be able to put a show on the air, but it won’t be a good show until the writers return, and talent can appear without having to cross a picket line,” the WGA’s website says.
But the WGA also admits that the decision to set up picket lines was “difficult” and “painful” and that it “will not be of the hosts themselves but the companies for which their shows are produced,” a WGAE statement said Sunday. That’s because Leno aided picketers in the early days of the strike and his writers have been regulars on the line as well as helpful to the WGA cause. There’s a rift right now between them and the guild because of the WGA’s decision to make an interim agreement with David Letterman’s Worldwide Pants enabling The Late Show and the Late Late Show to return to the air with scribes. “Our purpose is to continue awareness of our strike and the media conglomerates against which we strike, and to encourage performers, politicians and others to honor our picket line and not appear as guests on these struck programs.” The guild also pledged that “nothing at all personal or defamatory is intended” — obviously a real worry among SAG members.
Right now, agents and publicists are in a quandary over whether to send A-list and even B-list actors onto Jay’s show because of the controversy. But some of the locals and out-of-towners who line up for hours outside NBC for a chance to sit in Leno’s audience may also get intimidated by the labor action. One big question is whether striking writers will manage to infiltrate the crowd and disrupt any of the show’s tapings, like they did when Carson Daly went back to work.
The regular studio and other network pickets will resume beginning January 7th.