For the first time in 15 years, the Writers Guild of America has called for a strike against their Hollywood employers. And while many viewers won’t notice the effects for some time, late-night comedy shows will be among the first affected.
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Daily Show, Late Night with Seth Meyers, and The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon have already gone dark. While the hosts have expressed solidarity with the WGA, Newsweek notes that Tonight Show staffer Sarah Kobos has accused Jimmy Fallon of not showing the same support behind the scenes. If that sounds rough, trust us when we say that it will only get uglier as the strike goes on.
Other late-night shows that will shut down over the strike include Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Real Time with Bill Maher, and Saturday Night Live, which will likely be unable to finish its remaining three episodes of the season. Deadline notes that one of the few exceptions is Fox News’ late-night comedy Gutfeld!, which will apparently skirt the call to strike because host Greg Gutfeld and his writers are not WGA members.
Scripted comedies and dramas are also affected by the strike, and this may affect whether these shows will be able to produce their full-season orders. Via Deadline and other outlets, production has already halted for Cobra Kai, Yellowjackets, Abbott Elementary, Night Court, Power Book III: Raising Kanan, and Big Mouth. This list will only grow longer as network shows that were scheduled to resume filming this summer remain on hold.
The studios have already banked numerous scripts in preparation for the strike. Jon Favreau has previously mentioned that The Mandalorian season 4 is already written, but as the series creator and showrunner, Favreau would be unlikely to cross the picket line and oversee production as he has in the past.
According to the WGA, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) refused to engage in negotiations about several of the writers’ top concerns including minimum staffing, writer compensation on streaming series, and even the potential use of A.I. to create scripts down the road. The AMPTP also faces potential labor issues in the very near future with the actors of SAG-AFTRA and the Directors Guild of America over many of the same issues currently at stake in the WGA strike. If either of those unions also goes on strike during the current WGA strike it would effectively shut down Hollywood.
The most recent WGA strike in 2007 lasted 100 days. Given the current intractable positions of both sides, this current strike could potentially go even longer.