The late-night hosts have talked of coming back before, but so far only the little-watched “Last Call with Carson Daly” has returned from its strike-imposed hiatus. But now, Variety reports, the Big Four late night hosts–Leno, Letterman, O’Brien and Ferguson–may all return on Jan. 7.
Back-channel talks between the show producers and hosts have been ongoing, and there was talk in November of returning en masse on Dec. 3. At the time it appeared the strike might be short-lived, and the hosts decided it was better to stay off the air as a show of support for the writers, than return and have their shows/theatres picketed.
With no end in sight and no plans even to return to the negotiating table, however, the situation has changed. NBC, normally with the two highest-rated hosts in their time slots, is hemorrhaging viewers and ad dollars. It’s no surprise, therefore, that Variety is reporting that Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien are getting the most corporate heat to return to work. The return of all four hosts would obviously be a major blow for the writers.