"Guest" Hosts For Late Night?
NBC is considering substituting guest hosts for Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien on their respective late-night talk shows if the writers' strike becomes a lengthy affair, Daily Variety reported today (Monday), citing no sources. Leno has maintained that he could not perform effectively without his writing staff, although O'Brien, a former comedy writer himself, brought the house down at a charity affair last week with quips that were widely reported and displayed his ability to perform without assistance from a writing staff. Variety indicated that David Letterman or Jimmy Kimmel might return to the air as early as next week. Meanwhile, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists strongly condemned the Writers Guild of America East's attack on Ellen Degeneres for continuing to tape her daytime talk show during the strike. In a letter to WGAE Executive Director Mona Managan, her AFTRA counterpart, Kim Roberts Hedgpeth, wrote that DeGeneres is bound by a no-strike clause in her contract requiring her to report to work. "If WGAE had concerns about the activities of this AFTRA member, we cannot fathom why we did not receive so much as a courtesy heads-up to discuss the situation and see what we could do to work together in support of WGA's members," Hedgpeth continued, describing the situation as a "stunning breach of basic inter-union courtesy" and a "misstep that threatens to frustrate the solidarity of organized labor on a cause that we should all stand together, and stand up, for." In her response, Mangan said, in effect, that the WGA did not intend to "involve any union, such as your own, in our efforts to encourage individuals to withhold their services. What we ask of them are acts of individual conscience." Meanwhile, Telepictures Productions, which produces DeGeneres's show, pointed out that virtually every other syndicated daytime talk show has remained in production -- without any of the others being singled out for attack by the WGA.