Late Shows Go Dark in First Fallout From Strike
The fallout from the writers’ strike is beginning to hit.
Late night shows, including “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and “Late Night With Seth Meyers,” will immediately begin showing repeats, according to several people briefed on the plans.
The Comedy Central program “The Daily Show,” which has no dedicated host, will also air repeats, as will the HBO shows hosted by John Oliver and Bill Maher.
Late Monday night, the East and West branches of the Writers Guild of America, the unions that represent thousands of TV and movie writers, announced that talks with the major studios had broken down and that they were going on strike.
The writers have said that their compensation has stagnated even as television production has rapidly grown over the past decade. W.G.A. leaders have said the current system is broken, arguing that the “the survival of writing as a profession is at stake in this negotiation.”
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which bargains on behalf of Hollywood companies, said in a statement that its offer included “generous increases in compensation for writers.”
Writers will assemble on picket lines in New York and Los Angeles beginning Tuesday afternoon.
Late night hosts and their top producers have been on group calls in recent weeks, coordinating a response in the event of a strike, according to one of the people briefed on the plans.
Unlike the enmity of the so-called late night wars from the 1990s, the hosts have made a concerted effort to show that they are on friendly, if still competitive, terms. When James Corden signed off from “The Late Late Show” last week, there was a taped segment that featured Mr. Colbert, Mr. Fallon, Mr. Kimmel and Mr. Meyers all together.
How long they stay off the air is an open question. During the last strike, in 2007, late night shows stayed dark before they gradually came back to air after about two months, even with their writers still on picket lines. (That strike lasted 100 days.)
Mr. Kimmel, ABC’s late night host, was paying his staff out of pocket, and he said years later he had to return to air because he had nearly drained his life savings.
David Letterman, who owned his CBS late night show through his production company Worldwide Pants, made a deal with the Writers Guild of America that allowed his writers to come back on the show.
The other hosts — whose shows were owned by media companies — had no such luck. Hosts like Mr. Kimmel and Conan O’Brien returned without their writers, and gamely tried to put together their shows without their standard monologues. Mr. O’Brien had to resort to time-killing gimmicks, such as spinning his wedding ring on his desk, setting a timer to it in the process.
Jay Leno, the host of “The Tonight Show,” infuriated W.G.A. officials by writing his own monologue jokes. “A Jew, a Christian and a Muslim walk into a bar,” Mr. Leno said during his opening monologue, which stretched nearly 10 minutes. “The Jew says to the Muslim, see, I have no idea what they say, because there’s a writers’ strike.”
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