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In a move that certainly hasn’t won him many friends, Carson Daly returned to the air last night, making his Last Call the first late-night talk show to come back after writers’ strike began on November 5. He’s, of course, taken some flack for his decision to tape new episodes — “Over at NBC, Carson Daly will be hosting his own three-hour special December 31, Scabbin’ New Year’s Eve,” quips the obnoxiously unfunny Late Show Writers on Strike blog — but, since he’s not a Writers Guild member like Jay, Dave, Jimmy, Conan, or Ellen (who is the very textbook definition of a scab), practically all of it has been undeserved. “There’s one reason why we are back,” he told his audience. “Seventy-five members of my loyal staff and crew were going to get laid off … These are people that, when we moved the show from New York to L.A., uprooted their lives, they moved their families, all out of loyalty to me … An ultimatum, if you will, was put in front of me, ‘You either come back or they’re laid off,’ [and] I said, ‘Turn the lights on, we’re coming back.’”
In place of what we assume would have been a monologue and skits (we’d never seen the show before last night), Daly reiterated his support for the WGA strike and his four picketing writers, fawned over supermodel guest Karolina Kurkova, and killed time between commercials sharing pictures of his family’s Thanksgiving. In other words, it was virtually indistinguishable from most scripted late-night TV.Carson Daly Returns!