Kamis, 03 Januari 2008

Leno's Monologue No Joking Matter for Writers (E! Online)

Los Angeles (E! Online) - It was business as usual Wednesday for the late-night hosts. But Jay Lenos business was a little too usual for some peoples taste.

The Writers Guild of America said Thursday Leno crossed the line with his Tonight Show monologue, which came off as just too darn pat for a show thats without a writing staff.

A discussion took place today between Jay Leno and the Writers Guild to clarify to him that writing for The Tonight Show constitutes a violation of the Guilds strike rules, the WGA said in a statement.

While the veteran stand-up was expected to lean on his improv skills, he actually announced during his opening remarks that he was writing his own material. Not just coming up with his own quips but writing them down.

I write jokes, Leno told his audience. We are following the guild thing--we can write for ourselves. He added that he was harkening back to his early days in showbiz by writing down an idea and then waking his wife in the middle of the night to see if it was funny or not.

However, the guild has for the most part prohibited striking scribes from working on any studio-sanctioned project, even in their spare time, so its unsurprising that it has taken issue with Lenos tactics, while Conan OBrien was passing the time on Late Night by having a staffer time how long he could keep his wedding ring spinning on top of his desk.

Along with Jimmy Kimmel, who also returned last night, and Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, who return Monday, neither NBC host has a writing staff.

We have to go by ourselves up against the CBS machine, Leno said. One man against a monologue.

When asked whether Leno had any comment on the WGAs condemnation, publicist Dick Guttman said Thursday that the entertainer is busying himself with the show.

Over on CBS was David Letterman, whose Worldwide Pants production company was able to cut a deal with the WGA that allowed Late Show and Late Late Show scribes back in the fold.

Youre watching the Late Show, the only show on the air that has jokes written by union writers, the newly bearded host said on the air Wednesday. I know youre at home asking yourselves, This crap is written?

When asked by an audience member why there were still picketers outside the Ed Sullivan Theater, despite the new writers contract, Letterman deadpanned, Those are just people who hate the show.

The Late Late Shows writers werent given a chance to be rusty--Craig Fergusons program did without guests and instead went with an entirely scripted format, including an opening skit in which the Scottish host donned a bushy fake beard and reminisced about his prestrike days as a TV host while tending sheep in the countryside.

Small groups of strikers gathered outside NBCs Burbank studios, where The Tonight Show is taped, and by New Yorks Rockefeller Center, braving the bitter chill to make their point outside OBriens studio.

The goal with this picket line is mainly symbolic, WGAE president Michael Winship told the Hollywood Reporter about the New York protest. Were trying to make it clear that were picketing the show so that stars dont feel comfortable crossing the line and appearing as guests.

The Screen Actors Guild said Wednesday it has encouraged its members to refrain from crossing picket lines, although it said it would be happy to lend its support to any show employing union writers.

SAG members Robin Williams and Bob Saget--who said hes a proud member of the Amalgamated Meat Cutters union as well-- bit the bullet and appeared with Letterman and OBrien, respectively.

While Leno and OBrien expressed their support for their fellow writers cause, Kimmel spoke out on behalf of his fellow hosts.

I dont want to depart too much from the party line, but I think its ridiculous, Kimmel said Wednesday night. Jay Leno, he paid his staff while they were out. Conan did the same thing. I dont know. I just think at a certain point you back off a little bit.

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