STRIKE COVERAGE: Ticket-Holders Suffer Late-Night Letdown

Letterman, Leno Offer Tickets to Future Date; Not So for O’Brien, Stewart, Colbert

With all signs pointing to a protracted strike that could outlast the broadcast season, fans of House, Grey’s Anatomy and other scripted primetime hits can at least ration out the remaining episodes and hope that a miraculous resolution will come before they run out. But for late-night fans, it’s cold turkey.

And as the strike brought production on late-night shows to a halt last week, it was the ticket-holders who got the rawest deal.

Those who’d waited and planned months in advance in hopes of watching a taping of their favorite show began receiving calls and e-mails from audience coordinators bearing the bad news.

Coordinators for CBS’ Late Show with David Letterman have been calling ticket-holders to tell them that the New York-based show isn’t taping but assure them they can reschedule when production resumes. And The Tonight Show with Jay Leno folks in Burbank, Calif., sent out personalized e-mails and posted a hotline number (818-840-3537) on the show’s Web site with information.

As with most taped shows, tickets for NBC’s Tonight Show, which seats about 380, generally aren’t guaranteed -- viewers show up in person with the ticket and hope to get a seat. But bumped ticket-holders are now being told that they can get guaranteed tickets for a date in the future if they leave word on the hotline. (Plus, those who showed up at the studio left with Tonight Show swag!)

Audience hopefuls for NBC’s Late Night with Conan O’Brien, which seats about 160, weren’t so lucky. The show can’t guarantee future tickets.

Comedy Central also isn’t guaranteeing future tickets for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart or The Colbert Report (about 200 and 125 seats, respectively). But the mass e-mail they sent to ticket holders -- telling them their "canceled show tickets will NOT be rescheduled" and that they’ll have to "start the process again" (harsh!) -- touched on a sentiment TV fans can get behind: "Of course, we are all hoping for a speedy resolution to the labor dispute."

The networks will continue with reruns as they reassess the situation.

For a gallery of photos from the picket line, click here.

For full coverage of the strike, click here.