For the first time in five months, the once-silent stages of late-night talk shows came alive with the familiar hum of activity, as hosts and writers ended their strike and resumed production. CBS’s “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,” ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and NBC’s “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” were among the first to reignite their studios with chatter and laughter.
A wave of anticipation swept through the audience as Stephen Colbert took center stage at the Ed Sullivan Theater, his entrance greeted with enthusiastic applause. “It feels good to be back,” he said, his face breaking into a smile. Under the new contract, there are provisions for better pay for streaming, increases in the cost of living, and protection against AI. A ripple of laughter spread through the audience as he jokingly credited the strike with giving his team access to “fresh air and sunshine.”
Meanwhile, on another set, Jimmy Kimmel was spotted in an unexpectedly poignant setting – a psychiatrist’s couch. His predicament? The seeming uncertainty of his return to the screen. The humor was injected back with a twist when his first guest, Arnold Schwarzenegger, reassured him in an iconic catchphrase-inspired quip, “You’ll be back.”
Jimmy Fallon recruited Matthew McConaughey and John Mayer for his comeback, promising U2’s Bono as a special surprise. Yet, his first awkward gag quickly suggested that it might take a while to regain everyone’s earlier spark.
The popular faces of late-night television are set to grace screens again on Monday, Oct. 2, 2023, associated with new episodes, thanks to the long-awaited end of the writers’ strike. Amid this backdrop of renewal, former “Saturday Night Live” head writer Seth Meyers savored the joy of reunion with his writing team and the chance to make people laugh once more.
Of course, the absence wasn’t all about twiddling thumbs. Some of the hosts had kept their creative fires burning by collaborating on a podcast, “Strike Force Five,” during the downtime.
Parallel to the comedians’ comeback, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists recommenced negotiations seeking to resolve their ongoing walk-off. The actors’ strike paralleled many of the writers’ grievances, and their representatives were watchfully considering the details of the precedent-winning deal of the Writers Guild of America.
Far from Hollywood’s spotlight, the picket lines saw high-profile visits from actors Bob Odenkirk and Jack Black, a show of solidarity with the protesting SAG-AFTRA members.
As studio executives weigh in on the discussion, promotional appearances by actors on late-night shows are curtailed for shows and films under strike. Barring certain exceptions, such as Matthew McConaughey’s appearance for his children’s book promotion, or through interim agreements permitting SAG-AFTRA members to work.
This hard-won resolution not only signals a promising return for the late-night shows but also sets a critical precedent for the Screen Actors Guild, whose negotiations are followed with bated breath.