STRIKE COVERAGE: NBC to Lay Off Leno Staff at End of Week
NBC Tells Nonwriting Tonight Show Staffers They'll Be Laid Off at End of Week in Wake of WGA Strike, But Guest Hosts Could Bring Show Back Nov. 19 and Save Those Jobs -- Late Night with Conan O'Brien Staff in Same Situation
By Ben Grossman -- Broadcasting & Cable, 11/9/2007 10:57:00 AM
And with Leno still refusing to cross the picket line, the show is looking at coming back on the air Nov. 19 with guest hosts so that it can save the jobs of the nonwriters.
“All sorts of things are being discussed, including guest hosts,” Tonight Show executive producer Debbie Vickers said. “Our preference is that we return to production of The Tonight Show with Jay as host as soon as possible.”
B&C also learned that the same timetable has been given to the staff of NBC’s Late Night with Conan O’Brien. That show's nonwriters also face layoffs at the end of the week of Nov. 12.
But Vickers also wants to save the jobs of her nonwriting staffers.
“We want to protect the staff, who have been loyal to this show for decades, in the same way that Johnny Carson reluctantly returned without his writers in 1988,” she said.
Late-night shows have gone into repeats since the strike began Monday as the hosts walked out in solidarity with their writing staffs.
With the shows shut down, networks can cut costs by laying off most of the rest of the staff.
And Leno’s chief writer doesn’t expect Leno back anytime soon.
“I talk to Jay every day, and he will not be the first [late-night host] to cross the picket line,” said Tonight Show head writer Joe Medeiros, also a strike captain for the Writers Guild of America. “So they are looking at guest hosts as one possibility so all those people don’t have to lose their jobs.”
Medeiros on Friday expressed anger at NBC for pulling the plug on the staff so quickly.
“This is the way that NBC treats the No. 1 late-night talk show that makes them $50 million a year and has been No. 1 for 12 years?” he said, noting that NBC even turned off his NBC e-mail account.
Even prior to the strike taking effect, many knew that the nonwriting late-night show staff members from all networks would probably begin to see layoffs within two to three weeks if their hosts did not resume their on-air duties.
The hosts are compelled to return without their writing staffs to save the jobs of all of the nonwriters, which can number more than 100 per show.
There is precedent for hosts to come back sans writers, as Johnny Carson and David Letterman both did during the 1988 strike.
Medeiros also spoke in animated fashion about NBC’s decision to replace Leno with Conan O’Brien in 2009.
“And all this after they already kicked the man out the door,” Medeiros said.
CBS has already said that The Late Show with David Letterman will remain in repeats the week of Nov. 12.
ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live continues to run in repeats, as its host has backed the writers not only by stepping aside, but even driving a taco truck around to picket sites in Los Angeles. Leno has also been a constant presence at picketing around town.
For a gallery of photos from the picket line, click here.
For full coverage of the strike, click here.
I've been a member of a union all my life and if Leno and O'Brian go back
to work they are SCABS in my eyes. With the millions they both have
made from the their shows I think they have enough money to pay their
respective pool of workers until the LEGAL STRIKE is over.
I have been a loyal until now but I for one will never watch either show
When you cross a LEGAL PICKET LINE to return to work you're a
SCAB - SCAB -SCAB - SCAB -SCAB - SCAB -SCAB - SCAB -SCAB - SCAB -
and will always be remembered as SCAB.
Dave Fennell - 12/28/2007 8:37:00 PM EST
instead of trying to settle the strike, they bully the guy that they've already pushed out the door. If that isn't low, don't know what is. They're losers in my book, you don't treat Jay, he's made NBC millions and someone like Jay, that treats people with respect and is very much loved and admired for the way he is by millions of viewers.
Kathy - 11/12/2007 6:02:00 PM EST
Saving jobs my ass, they want to pressure the hosts to come back, good for Conan and Leno - stay away till the contracts are signed.
Too bad for the crews getting cut - I feel for you!
Dax Jacobson - 11/11/2007 12:13:00 AM EST
writers and producers fighting over millions they dont really need what about the middle class crews that are in jepardy of lossing there homes.greed is greed no matter how it split
helen anderson - 11/10/2007 2:55:00 PM EST
Hats off to Jay Leno from a fellow New Englander! As a long time fan of Jay Leno I am delighted to see that he hasn't lost his values and is willing to stand for the writers. Keep it up Jay!
Dan Carrey - 11/10/2007 10:43:00 AM EST
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