Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers to Help Pay Crew Salaries During Writers Strike
Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers are stepping in to pay the salaries of their crews for at least one week now that the Writers Guild of America strike has brought late-night TV (and a whole lot of other productions in Hollywood) to a halt.
A source close to The Tonight Show tells Rolling Stone that NBC will pay The Tonight Show’s non-striking staff for two weeks, after which Fallon will cover salaries for a third week. Healthcare coverage for staffers will be available through the end of September, as well. A rep for Late Night did not immediately return a request for comment, though reports suggest Meyers has worked out a similar arrangement.
It’s unclear if Fallon or Meyers will continue to pay their crews if the strike does last longer than three weeks. Reps for both did not immediately return Rolling Stone‘s requests for comment.
Rolling Stone also reached out to reps for Stephen Colbert and The Late Show, and Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Kimmel Live to see if the hosts and/or networks (CBS and ABC, respectively), had similar plans. Those requests were not immediately returned.
Fallon, Meyers, and Colbert all expressed solidarity with their writers before the strike began earlier this week. On his last show before it went dark, Colbert said, “The writers’ demands are not unreasonable. I’m a member of the Guild, and I support collective bargaining. This nation owes so much to unions.”
The moves to cover crew salaries echo those taken by late-night hosts during the last WGA strike in 2007 and 2008. Kimmel, Conan O’Brien, Jay Leno, and David Letterman all stepped in to help pay non-striking workers when their shows were off the air. Ultimately, many of those programs were dark for about two months, from when the strike began in Nov. 2007 on through Jan. 2008.
The returns of those shows were not due to the end of the strike, which lasted until Feb. 12, 2008; rather, hosts were faced with a difficult choice, which O’Brien described at the time: “Either go back to work and keep my staff employed or stay dark and allow 80 people, many of whom have worked for me for fourteen years, to lose their jobs.”
For the remaining month-and-a-half of the strike, shows like O’Brien’s Late Night, Leno’s Tonight Show, Colbert’s The Colbert Report and Jon Stewart’s Daily Show plodded along with no writers and a lot of weird gambits to fill time. O’Brien famously concocted a bit where he tried to see how long he could spin his wedding ring. (And if you think that’s bad, don’t forget what happened to all the fully scripted shows affected by the last strike.)
Interestingly, Letterman and former Late Late Show host Craig Ferguson were able to return to the air at the same time with writers. Because Letterman’s production company independently owned the two programs (compared to NBC owning The Tonight Show and Late Night outright), they were ultimately able to strike their own side deal with the WGA during the strike.