LOS ANGELES (AP) — Late-night talk shows began their return to the air after a five-month absence brought on by the Hollywood writers strike, while actors completed the first day of talks that could end their own long work walk-off.
CBS’s “ The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,” ABC’s “ Jimmy Kimmel Live! ” and NBC’s “ The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon ” were the first shows to leave the air when the writers strike began on May 2, and now are among the first to return with airings Monday night.
Colbert blew a leaping kiss to his audience, which chanted his name as he took the stage at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York for the early evening taping of his show that airs at 11:35 p.m. Eastern.
“It feels good to be back,” the host said. “Now the writers strike is over with a new contract that includes protections against AI, cost of living increases, better pay for streaming, plus, thanks to the picket lines, my writers got fresh air and sunshine, and they do not care for that. Now they’re back safely in their joke holes.”
He lamented having been unable to weigh in with jokes about so much news for so many months.
“I believe we have been off the air for 154 indictments,” he said. “It was a crazy summer to be off. It was just packed with events.”
Meanwhile, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists began negotiations Monday with the same group, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, for the first time since they joined writers in a historic dual strike on July 14. The two sides will resume talks Wednesday.
Comedian John Oliver got his first take on the strike out on Sunday night, exuberantly returning to his “Last Week Tonight” show on HBO and delivering full-throated support for the strike.
Oliver cheerily delivered a recap of stories from the last five months before turnings serious, calling the strike “an immensely difficult time” for all those in the industry.
“To be clear, this strike happened for good reasons. Our industry has seen its workers severely squeezed in recent years,” Oliver said. “So, the writers guild went to strike and thankfully won. But, it took a lot of sacrifices from a lot of people to achieve that.”
Warner Bros. Discovery, which owns HBO, is among the studios on the other side of the table in the writers and actors strikes, and its CEO, David Zaslav, has been directly involved in negotiations.
Colbert will have Astrophysicist and author Neil deGrasse Tyson on his first show back. Kimmel will host Arnold Schwarzenegger. Matthew McConaughey will be on Fallon’s couch.
The hosts haven’t been entirely idle. They teamed up for a podcast, “ Strike Force Five,” during the strike.
The writers were allowed to return to work last week after the Writers Guild of America reached an agreement on a three-year contract with an alliance of the industry’s biggest studios, streaming services and production companies.
Union leaders touted the deal as a clear win on issues including pay, size of staffs and the use of artificial intelligence that made the months off worth it. The writers themselves will vote on the contract in a week of balloting that began Monday.
Actors walked off the job over many of the same issues as writers, and SAG-AFTRA leaders said they would look closely at the gains and compromises of the WGA’s deal, but emphasized that their demands would remain the same as they were when the strike began.
In a message emailed to members and posted on social media, the union’s leadership said not to treat a resolution as a foregone conclusion.
“As we negotiate, we ask that you not let up,” the message said. “Keep turning out in full force on our picket lines and at solidarity events around the country. Let the AMPTP hear your voice loud and clear. It makes a difference.”
The two sides said in a joint statement that “several executives” from studios would be in on the talks, without providing names. But along with Zaslav, Disney CEO Bob Iger, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos and NBCUniversal Studio Group Chief Content Officer Donna Langley all took part directly in the negotiations with writers.
It was just five days after writers and studios resumed talks that a deal was reach and that strike ended, though an attempt to restart negotiations a month earlier broke off after a few meetings.
The late-night shows will have significant limits on their guest lists. Their bread and butter, actors appearing to promote projects, will not be allowed to appear if the movies and shows are for studios that are the subject of the strikes.
But exceptions abound. McConaughey, for example, is appearing with Fallon to promote his children’s book, “Just Because.”
And SAG-AFTRA has granted interim agreements allowing actors to work on many productions, and with that comes the right of actors to publicly promote them.