Thursday, January 03, 2008

Late Night Shows Return-Some with Writers, Some Without





A bearded David Letterman returned to the air last night after a 2 month hiatus with a new show and a contract with his writers. Letterman's company, Worldwide Pants, reached a deal with the writers to work on his show and Craig Ferguson's Late Late Show. The writer's strike still continues though, and Leno and Conan were back sans writers. Harkening back to the writer's strike of the 1980s, Letterman brought back his director from NBC to do a segment called "Hal Gurnee's Network Timekillers". Letterman's top 10 list featured striking writers joking about their demands in the negotiations. Robin Williams was on Dave's show, as well as a taped cold open from Hillary Clinton. Williams said that Letterman resembled General Robert E. Lee. Conan also sported a beard last night. Letterman took the stage amid dancing girls holding picket signs. Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee crossed picket lines and appeared with Jay Leno. The screen actors guild is urging its members to not do shows with Leno, Jimmy Kimmel, or Conan since they are not employing writers. So, the CBS shows may get better guests.

Leno is averaging 4.4 million viewers this season. Letterman averages 3.6 million viewers. The numbers for Leno and Letterman are down 25 and 15% respectively compared to last season. With people losing interest in Leno, one has to wonder what he will do next year when Conan takes over. In the 12:35 am slot, Conan and Ferguson are in a virtual tie, with 1.8 and 1.7 million viewers respectively. Jimmy Kimmel's ABC show averages 1.8 million viewers and has Nightline as its lead in. Leno, Conan and Kimmel are not allowed to do many of their comedic bits such as traditional monologues due to strike restrictions. The main question is, how will this affect the ratings? This strike may be a big break for Letterman and an opportunity to win over Leno, which has not happened in a long time. Let's see how long the strike lasts, and how long it will be before Leno, Conan and Kimmel draw up their individual deals to get the writers back. The Daily Show and The Colbert Report return next week to Comedy Central with no writers, which should be an enormous challenge for Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

Here is a link to some clips and comments from the Today Show's Meredith Viera and Al Roker.

*Some information from msn.com.
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