With WGA Strike Settled, Late-Night Comedy Is Set to Return
Poor Drew Barrymore probably wishes she’d waited another week or so before announcing her show’s return. With the news that the Writers Guild of America has come to a tentative agreement with the AMPTP, Barrymore’s show should be back in action soon alongside late-night comedy shows like The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel Live! and Late Night With Seth Meyers.
How soon? Maybe really soon. Deadline reports that the late-night shows could be back “a few days after the strike is officially over,” although it will take a minute for production crews to reassemble and writers’ rooms to develop new material. The trade paper also predicts that the shows will all return on the same night, given the hosts’ solidarity during the strike. That’s what happened after the last writers’ strike, with Leno, Letterman, and Conan all returning on January 2, 2008.
With late-night comedy’s return just around the corner, we have a few questions.
- Who will the hosts talk to? With the SAG-AFTRA strike continuing (although the WGA settlement might provide a framework for that fight to end as well), it’s hard to imagine who the late-night comics will have on the panel. Stand-up comics? Possibly, but they’re likely going to stay away as members (or at least potential members) of SAG-AFTRA. Athletes? Musicians? Regular human beings? Someone’s going to have to get creative.
- Have we heard the last of Strike Force Five? With Kimmel, Fallon, Colbert and Meyers turning their attention to getting their shows back up and running, we’re guessing we may have heard the last of the hosts’ Strike Force Five podcast. Will that give Fallon a little breathing room after the Rolling Stone expose? Does that mean we’ll soon be able to snag signification discounts on Strike Force Five merch?
- What about Kimmel? Speaking of Strike Force Five, Jimmy Kimmel used that podcast to tell his late-night pals that he “was very intent on retiring right around the time when the strike started.” Now that it’s time to get back to work, will Kimmel -- the host with the longest current tenure in late night -- finally pull the plug? Maybe not, as he told his podcast partners that the stoppage reminded him that, “Oh yeah, it’s kind of nice to work. When you are working, you think about not working.” But with twenty years of Jimmy Kimmel Live! under his belt, could the end be near? For context, it seemed like Jay Leno would never leave The Tonight Show, but his Carson-to-Conan run only lasted 17 years.
- How soon will we see the @midnight reboot? James Corden took a powder right before the strike began, with CBS announcing a new version of @midnight as his replacement. But no host has been hired and the SAG-AFTRA strike will likely prevent one from being announced anytime soon. (Ditto, The Daily Show.) Sounds like we’ll have to wait on this one until universal labor peace has been achieved.