Late-night television talk-show hosts are assuming an unlikely central role in the stalled negotiations between Hollywood writers and producers, the Wall Street Journal reports.
As the strike approaches its third week, the hosts are ramping up efforts to resolve the crisis and get back on the air. According to people who work on the late-night shows, the hosts are reaching out to media executives to try to get the networks back to the negotiating table.
Under increasing pressure to return to their shows without their writing staffs, some late-night hosts are considering crossing the picket lines and going back on the air as early as the week after Thanksgiving. Shows including CBS Corp.'s "Late Show with David Letterman," NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," and Viacom Inc. unit Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" went into reruns when the strike started Nov. 5.
The late-night hosts join others in the entertainment industry in a precarious position of divided loyalty, with allegiances to both writers and their productions. Some TV writers who produce their own shows, known as showrunners, are planning to return to work in a nonwriting capacity to finish post-production on existing episodes.
The hosts are in a unique position of power. They have close relationships with the networks and media executives, who have spent years wooing them with huge salaries and fancy perks. Late-night shows are extremely lucrative for the networks, while costing little to produce; their biggest costs by far are the hosts' salaries.
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