News flash: the late-night TV hosts, the New York Post reports, may be coming back before the writers’ strike is over. Newsier flash: they may actually do so with their striking writers’ blessing.
How will they manage that? For starters, by not having acted like absolute tools to the writers who make their shows possible.
For those of you who missed it, Rebecca Winters Keegan has an update on the strike at time.com, where she writes that the directors’ guild could create some movement by starting to negotiate their own contract next month. But the story also shows that the writers’ and studios’ sides have gotten more, not less, acrimonious toward each other, with the guild accusing the producers of lying and the studios issuing ever-more-pissy memos attacking the writers. All of which makes me wonder: do any of these people realize they all have to work together again when this thing is over?
David Letterman–who’s not just a writer but a host and producer and businessman–does, which is probably a big reason that he’s been paying writers out of his own pocket since the strike started. Some of his peers, like Jimmy Kimmel and Jay Leno, have reportedly also dug deep to help their writers, and now that the shows are contemplating coming back, at least some writers evidently think that would be a good thing. “Dave Letterman on the air without writers and pissed off about it would be as powerful as anything we [union members] can do,” Late Show writer Bill Sheft tells the Post. “He will rail nightly at the greedy pinheads that put him in this position.”
That’s essentially what Letterman did in 1988, during the last writers’ strike, when he was on NBC. The difference now is that he’d have even more late-night company to rail with him.
As I’ve said before, I’m unfortunately not convinced that public opinion is going to have any effect one way or another on the strike–except public opinion in the form of ratings–because passionate appeals are only slightly more effective against publicly-traded companies as they are against robots. But it can’t hurt, I guess, and getting Dave and Jon to protest for you on The Man’s airspace may be more effective than any number of picket lines. Sometimes, maybe, the best way to fight against Big TV is with more Big TV.