NBC and Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers plan to pay the network’s “Tonight” and “Late Night” shows three weeks of wages while the shows are sidelined because of the writers’ strike, according to two people familiar with the matter.
NBC plans to pay the staff two weeks of salary while each late-night host pays a third week out of their own pockets, according to these people. Shows employees will be paid health care salaries through September. Staff were told Wednesday morning during production calls, these people say, that Fallon and Myers personally got involved to discuss the matter with his staff. Hosts usually don’t participate in those early meetings.
NBC declined to make the executives available for comment.
The moves indicate that the network and hosts would like to be back on the air sooner rather than later. In the writers’ strike of 2007 and 2008, the country’s late-night programming went dark for two months until David Letterman’s Worldwide Pants production company secured its own deal with the Writers Guild of America, and other hosts and programs followed suit. In some cases, shows have gone back on the air without writers, and hosts like Jay Leno have had to put together monologues.
Writers are instrumental in the late-night television schedule, attacking the multiple jokes, one-liners and sketches each day that tinker with current events and trending popular culture. The contract between the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents about 350 television and film production companies, expired on May 1.
Late night programming across the television landscape faces greater challenges than it did 15 years ago. The shows grapple with viewership defection from linear programming to broadcast, with ad sales and ratings gradually declining. Being off the air for only a few months could exacerbate this dynamic, and keeping staff payable during the first weeks out of business could help programs get started again more easily if WGA and AMPTP terms are reached, or if executives are in some kind of intensification. up again.
Fallon and Myers have both spoken out in support of the writing staff in recent days. Steve Higgins, anchor of ‘Tonight’ who is also a featured producer on ‘Saturday Night Live’. On Tuesday he was seen walking the WGA picket line in New York City.
Other early hour shows also went dark, including CBS’ “Late Show With Stephen Colbert,” ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” and Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show.” HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher” and “Last Week Tonight” have also discontinued original programming. Saturday Night Live has canceled what would have been an original program hosted by Pete Davidson that was scheduled for this weekend and is set to air for the foreseeable future.