David Letterman has secured a deal with the striking Writers Guild of America that will allow him to resume his late-night show on CBS next Wednesday with his team of writers on board, executives of several late-night shows said today.
Most of television’s late-night shows are scheduled to return to the air that night after being off for two months due to the strike, but it is likely that only Mr. Letterman, and the show that follows him on CBS hosted by Craig Ferguson, will be supported by material from writers.
The reason is that Mr. Letterman’s company World Wide Pants, owns both those shows. The company announced two weeks ago that it was seeking a separate deal with the guild that would permit the two World Wide Pants show to return to the air. The talks seemed to be at an impasse until today when the deal was completed.
A spokesman for Mr. Letterman’s company declined to comment.
Beyond the obvious advantage of having writers to supply comedy material that other shows will not have, Mr. Letterman’s and Mr. Ferguson’s shows will likely gain a benefit by being able to book guests who will not appear on shows still being struck by the Writers Guild.
Representatives of some of the other late-night shows have reported difficulty booking some the top-name actors in Hollywood, who have indicated reluctance to appear on shows whose networks are still among the entities the writers are striking against.
Numerous big-budget movies have opened during the holiday season without having opportunities for their stars to promote them on the late-night shows as they normally would. The World Wide Pants shows may now be able to book many of those stars, some of whom may still resist appearing on the other shows, like NBC’s “Tonight” with Jay Leno and “Late Night” with Conan O’Brien, and ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”
All three of those shows are scheduled to return Wednesday without writers.