Official: Stewart/Colbert Return Jan. 7th

Now that almost all the other late night hosts are returning right after the new year, the latest news is that Jon Stewart (a WGA member) and Stephen Colbert (also a WGA member) are headed back into the studios on January 7th. The good news is that this could make the 2008 Presidential race that much more interesting. The bad news is that the shows won’t have available to them the WGA writers who would make the shows that much more interesting. Both late-night shows were shuttered after the Hollywood writers strike began seven weeks ago. The comedy duo join late night hosts Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Kimmel returning behind their desks on January 2nd.

Only David Letterman, whose Worldwide Pants owns both his The Late Show and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, is trying to get back on the air with writers by asking the WGA for an “interim agreement”. On Friday, leaders of the striking writers guild confer with Dave’s production company. My latest info is that WWP’s Rob Burnett is flying to Los Angeles tonight to personally meet with the WGA “because he thought this was too important to just leave up the lawyers,” an insider tells me.

Here’s the Comedy Central announcement that is slowly beginning to circulate:

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report will resume production on January 7 with both shows returning to air that night without their respective writing staffs. The January 7 return follows a scheduled two-week, end-of-year hiatus that was previously built into the shows’ production calendars. We continue to hold out hope for a swift resolution to the current stalemate that will enable the shows to be complete again.”

And then there’s this joint statement by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert: “We would like to return to work with our writers. If we cannot, we would like to express our ambivalence, but without our writers we are unable to express something as nuanced as ambivalence.”

Meanwhile, the WGA issued this response to the news: “Comedy Central forcing Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert back on the air will not give the viewers the quality shows they’ve come to expect. The only way to get the writing staffs back on the job is for the AMPTP companies to come back to the table prepared to negotiate a fair deal with the Writers Guild.”

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