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strike zone

Letterman Set to Return Thanks to WGA's Plan to Bypass AMPTP

Photo Illustration: AP; Courtesy of CBS

The New York Times, Nikki Finke, and Variety are reporting it, so it's probably true — David Letterman is apparently close to a deal with the Writers Guild that would allow CBS' Late Show to begin taping new episodes early next month using its full writing staff, even if the strike continues. While this is terrific news for anyone who enjoys "Will It Float?" (i.e. pretty much everybody), it's not such good news for NBC, which is soon expected to announce the return of Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien to late night on January 7 — without their writers. (Letterman stands a better chance of getting a WGA waiver than other late-night hosts since his production company, Worldwide Pants, owns Late Show and not CBS. The waiver would likely cover the Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson too, since it's also owned by WP.)

This comes after the WGA's announcement Saturday that it would try to negotiate directly with studios and production companies instead of the AMPTP, a change in approach that will allow independent Worldwide Pants to consummate its deal with the WGA. The AMPTP grumpily insists that even if companies bargain on their own, they are still represented by the AMPTP. This leads to a question we have always wondered about: Why, exactly, is it okay with everyone that the AMPTP represents basically every TV and movie studio? Why isn't that collusion? Given the upcoming void in original programming, couldn't some enterprising small network or production company approach the WGA, say "Sure, we'll give you everything you want," and churn out a bunch of original scripted TV shows and movies at a time when competition is nil? That's what we'd do if we owned, say, myNetworkTV or something.

Letterman Seeks Deal With Writers' Union [NYT]
Late Night Breakthrough; Dave Cooks Up WGA Deal That NBC & ABC Won't Enjoy; CBS Reacts By Re-Pledging AMPTP Unity [Deadline Hollywood Daily]
WGA may bless return of Letterman [Variety]