Late night will be a lot quieter in the midst of the Writers Guild of America strike that began Monday (May 1) after negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers failed to produce a new deal.
So far, the first strike in 15 years means that all your favorite late night talk shows will be dark for the time being, with Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Steven Colbert and Seth Meyers turning off the lights and The Daily Show also taking a break for the foreseeable future. Their solidarity with the strikers will keep musical acts from promoting their latest projects on The Tonight Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, The Late Show and Late Night, eliminating a vital source of television promotion.
The three biggest reality singing shows will carry on without any interruption. A source close to American Idol tells Billboard that there is not expected to be any impact on the current season, which is slated to wrap up on May 21 with a three-hour finale. Similarly, Fox’s Masked Singer — whose episodes are pre-taped well in advance — will keep revealing celebrity singers through its May 17 finale. At press time a source close to The Voice — which wraps with a two-night finale on May 22-23 — tells Billboard the NBC series also does not expect to change gears over the next three weeks.
But the work stoppage also means Pete Davidson’s anticipated comeback to Saturday Night Live this weekend (May 6) with musical guest Lil Uzi Vert has been put on ice. According to Variety, Sunday night’s (May 7) live 2023 MTV Movie & TV Awards is pulling the ripcord on their “contingency” plan after months of planning for the long-expected strike.
The production reportedly stockpiled “several short films” before the strike began, though any other scripted elements “can’t be updated or revised” with the writers on the sidelines, meaning there might be less of the expected topical or in-the-moment commentary pumped into the Teleprompter for presenters and host Drew Barrymore during the broadcast.
The MTV event will be the first major awards show since the strike was called and the unnamed production source said nothing that was written before can be changed at this point. Barrymore told Variety that planning was key. “The things that we have planned to be in the body of the show, we made efforts to have those plans be in place,” the actress and daytime talk show host said. “Our respect and solidarity is not only intact, we are covering ourselves so that we can do the appropriate thing. Nobody here is tone deaf… I think we’ve been acting in accordance of being the most appropriate to everyone we support, and have a plan for that in place.”
As for other upcoming awards shows, the May 11 ACM Awards looks to be in good shape. A source told Billboard on Tuesday that the script was completed before the strike began and the show is not expected to be affected even if the strike does not end anytime soon.
Further down the line, Yellowjackets co-creator Ashley Lyle tweeted on Tuesday that the Showtime drama, whose episodes are typically packed with classic alt-rock from the 1990s, has stopped work on the in-process third season as its second season continues to roll out. Anticipating a work slowdown, many studios stockpiled episodes and movies to weather the storm in light of the last work stoppage in 2007, which lasted 100 days.
That means artists and rights holders who locked in synch deals for the placement of their songs in already wrapped shows and movies should not be impacted, while those who were working to secure such deals may face days, weeks, or possibly months of delays in finalizing future synchs.
“While company profits have remained high and spending on content has grown, writers are falling behind,” the WGA said in a statement shared with The Hollywood Reporter. “The companies have used the transition to streaming to cut writer pay and separate writing from production, worsening working conditions for series writers at all levels. On TV staffs, more writers are working at minimum regardless of experience, often for fewer weeks, or in mini-rooms, while showrunners are left without a writing staff to complete the season. And while series budgets have soared over the past decade, median writer-producer pay has fallen.”
The Reporter also noted syndicated daytime talk shows will, for the most part, not be affected, as The View, Live With Kelly and Mark and Tamron Hall — all of which frequently feature musical guests — do not staff WGA writers; The Talk, which does employ WGA writers, is airing banked shows for this week and next and will then shift to repeats.
The Kelly Clarkson Show, home to the beloved daily Kellyoke segment and frequent sit-downs with fellow musicians, employs guild writers but tapes episodes in advance and has “a bank of shows on which to draw.” Another popular daytime talker, The Drew Barrymore Show, has wrapped production on its season.