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Leno, O’Brien to Cross Picket Line

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Posted on Dec 17, 2007
Jay Leno

Late night hosts Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien are set to resume their talk shows without writers. An NBC executive says “there are hundreds of people who will be able to return to work as a result of Jay’s and Conan’s decision,” but one imagines dwindling ratings have something to do with their plans. David Letterman, meanwhile, may work out a deal with the Writers Guild that would allow his show to come back with writers.


The strike left the nation bereft of fresh late-night laughs for two months as the presidential race heated up. Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central has also been shut down during the strike.

“Both Jay and Conan have supported their writers during the first two months of this WGA (Writers Guild of America) strike and will continue to support them,” said Rick Ludwin, executive vice president, late night and primetime series for NBC. “However, there are hundreds of people who will be able to return to work as a result of Jay’s and Conan’s decision.”

It’s not immediately clear how each show will change in coming back without writers. The late-night programs have become less like talk shows and more like comedy shows in recent years, requiring more prepared material.

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By cyrena, December 31, 2007 at 1:37 am Link to this comment


No doubt a coporate scum bag. You sound like my former manager. at least until his fat ass got shit canned too.

I hear he’s gone from his standard 493 pounds down to somewhere around 230. Just as well for him I guess, since he doesn’t have that nice benefits package anymore either, to pay for all of those meds and other things that he didn’t think those union workers deserved.

Yep, he sure did save HIS company some money.

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By gfire, December 29, 2007 at 3:47 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I come from a union family and i wont cross a strike line no matter what!

anyone who does is a SCAB!!!!!

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By protagonia, December 28, 2007 at 9:24 am Link to this comment

I have read mostly supportive comments about writers, regardless of how certain individuals have responded negatively to them - but I know lots of good writers who don’t make more than 5-10K a year in writing work. They do it because they are trying to stay in a business with it’s wagons circled already.

The business does not always hire the best people for the job, nor pay the most qualified ones what they are truly worth. That being said, it’s like virtually every other job in this way. Unions were/are the American thing to do.

I would imagine that there are several of those who have had their work postponed by this strike that are upset with the writers, but I bet there are more that would take exception to being called “Little People”.

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By Crackerjack, December 27, 2007 at 8:59 pm Link to this comment

Who gives a rat’s ass?  Just watch the Preview Channel and forget about it.  Oh, and remember to leave SpongeBob on for the dogs when you leave in the morning.

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By rage, December 24, 2007 at 11:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)


With these two idiots, will this really matter?

It’s not like we’re talking Colbert, Stewart, or Letterman here. These two knuckleheads never really attracted substantial writing talent in the first place. Who knows? For them, it might be a good move, as well as proof they actually have an iota of talent.

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By Marjorie L. Swanson, December 24, 2007 at 5:38 am Link to this comment

Sometimes you have to read a post several times to see if some pinhead really said what you think they said.  And damned if #122042 by manapp99 didn’t really rant on about the “evil” writer’s and their union and claim that unions are welfare for the less talented. Sometimes a person’s words stand for what they believe and sometimes they stand for what they are. manapp99 shows a person so mean-spirited and so small-minded that the words define who and what he/she is. Unions turned this country from a haven for the rich to a place where ordinary citizens, i.e. “little people” (although I think that means really little people as in short of stature?) became a vibrant middle class. The erosion of unions has made that process decline. Exactly as the Republican Party and our Corporate Government intended. As anyone with a brain knows.

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PatrickHenry's avatar

By PatrickHenry, December 23, 2007 at 2:33 pm Link to this comment

#122042 by manapp99

All the “little people” are likely union members also and recognize the importance of collective bargining and the rising cost of living. 

Being union members means they likely have a comprehensive health plan and a pension or retirement plan which keeps them from having to opt for federally funded welfare programs.

Louise, You have a marvelous idea and I would like to see Colbert interview some of the striking writers to get their message out.  Maybe we can boycott some of the sponsers of these shows.

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By Conservative Yankee, December 23, 2007 at 12:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

122042 by manapp99 on 12/23 at 8:54 am

“Union members are selfish greedy assholes.”

....and Jews are all bankers,
blacks are all criminals, whites are all “well off” Americans are all militaristic, middle easterners are all Muslims… and the list goes on.

As Mister Bumble says in Oliver Twist, ...and my only hope is that it’s eyes are opened by experience.”

I suggest picking lettuce in the San Joaquin Valley for a few years, and then come back here and tell me who the “selfish greedy assholes” are. 

I attempt to be civil to all, but sometimes it is hard.

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By manapp99, December 23, 2007 at 9:54 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Union members are selfish greedy assholes. Look at the trickle down of their actions. Writers go on strike, shows go dark, working men and women out of jobs from stage hands to hair dressers to caterers. No compassion for anyone but themselves. I could care less is Leno or Letterman comes back but I do care for all the little people hurt by the selfish writers. The real insult is that this is somehow for all the “little guys” I have seen blogs with writers claiming that they do not make all that much however I have not seen any spelling out just how much they DO make. Not all that much compared to who, the overpaid stars? If your skills are worth a crap you will not need a union to negotiate your compensation. Your skills will speak for you. Unions are welfare for the less talented.

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By Conservative Yankee, December 23, 2007 at 8:41 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

121914 by DennisD on 12/22 at 12:46 pm

“Anyone crossing a picket line is a piece of sh*t, period.”

I am in 100% agreement with the above sentiment. AND Ron (the scab) Reagan was the head of the screen actors Guild, which leads me to observe:

I feel about UNION MEMBERS (writers)the same way I feel about soldiers in Iraq.  The soldiers are just doing their jobs. It’s the leadership that’s fucked!

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By DennisD, December 22, 2007 at 1:46 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I guess it is either cross the picket line or out source the writing to China, India or Pakistan like everything else. But then who could read the cue cards.

It only shows that the people at the top are the same everywhere - they care nothing for anyone beneath their income group. Unions made what was once the middle class in this country possible. Since very few of these “stars” started out at the top how quickly they forget.

Anyone crossing a picket line is a piece of sh*t, period.

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By Louise, December 21, 2007 at 11:17 am Link to this comment

Guess a comment from somebody who never watches these two is in order. Last time [only time]  I watched Leno [years ago] I felt monumental disappointment, being a “Silver Bears” [his best movie] fan.

Conan was a mystery on my first and only visit. Proving the writers are indeed valuable. Or maybe not. Maybe it’s getting the audience psyched before the show begins. All those dirty jokes told off camera.

Who knows? Without writers, having to rely on their own special charm, the shows might be hilarious! Nothing funnier than watching a “pro” trip allover himself!

I mean, where would Bush be without his writers?
Hmmm ... I may tune in to see.

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By Joe R., December 20, 2007 at 9:28 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Anyone who crosses a picket line is an asshole and a scab.  Boycott both of them overpaid bastards.

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By camis, December 19, 2007 at 8:18 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

anyone who crosses the picket line is a scab. period. what about the executives at NBC?  betcha they have a lot to do with this.

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By chris, December 19, 2007 at 6:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Leno is as shallow as his humor.  Conan is simply a yes man (or boy).

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By Conservative Yankee, December 19, 2007 at 7:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Two over-paid scabs cross a picket line, and it’s big news. 

Maybe I’m wrong, but I doubt I’m the only US citizen who has never seen either Leno nor O’brien on TV…

Can someone tell me what these two folks do that is indispensable to the American public?  Should they (for example) be paid more than a farmer, or a fireman?

When people speak of “values” are they addressing the priority of “worth?”

Do we need coke-snorting entertainers,  or steroid-laden baseball players?

...and how do these people compare on the social-need list with Nurses, teachers and the folks who remove our mountains of trash?

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JimBob's avatar

By JimBob, December 18, 2007 at 9:29 pm Link to this comment

Sorry about the multiple posts. I kept getting an error message, thought maybe the bad-language police were on my case.  Now I can say it: Leno is a suppurating scab, an infected piece of hypocritical (“I support the writers”) shit.
Ahhh, that feels better.

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By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, December 18, 2007 at 7:34 pm Link to this comment

First, I haven’t seen a lot of evidence from many commenters that they need confirmation of their beliefs by an utterance of some famous person/writer/sage.

Second, we’re all indispensible, for sure.  What little remaining power the unions have is dwindling.
My experience is that much of their power is in shaking down their membership for increased dues. 

I envy young people because I believe all this crap is going to implode someday and the middle class worker will come into his/her own shortly thereafter.  Then you’ll see real power. You might not be the United States then, though.

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By PatrickHenry, December 18, 2007 at 6:14 pm Link to this comment

I could understand if someone like David Letterman who owns an independent production company signs a letter of intent to the writers union, agreeing to the negotiations final outcome retroactively.

The writers should think too, graveyards are full of indispensible people.

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By weather, December 18, 2007 at 2:50 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

JF;Thank You, what a fine post.

Frank Zappa was no one’s fool.

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By antispin, December 18, 2007 at 1:04 pm Link to this comment

Sorry about my earlier mistaken cross post!  Here’s some writers doing their own web cast tv:

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By Thomas Billis, December 18, 2007 at 10:43 am Link to this comment

If Jay Leno or anyone else crosses a picket line to perform the people of America should make it” no see tv.“Many working people go through extreme hardships to support fellow workers on strike becuase in the long run it is good for everyone when we support each other.I am sure that the hardship Jay “the working mans friend"may endure will be bearable.He can stay home and count his money.If Jay Leno crosses pickets to perform I for one will never watch or attend any show that he is part of..I suggest that the rest of you get on board.

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By The Village Idiot, December 18, 2007 at 10:27 am Link to this comment

JimBob: The first version of your comment was just fine. No need to de-fang it, Leno is clearly an Uber-Tool, and has been that way a long time. O’Brien must be his protege’.

Either way, we can safely bet that hard-hitting political commentary and satire will not be forthcoming from these two vacuous shows. If I were a writer for Maher, Colbert, or Stewart, I’d consider putting the strike on the back-burner since the perspective those shows offer are contrary and rare in the MSM (and therefore valuable), and without them we might all end up trying to make our livings in an even worse situation than this one. There’s more going on here than a fight for compensation, and hopefully the Good Guys have figured out it’s long past time to take off the gloves.

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By JimBob, December 18, 2007 at 10:15 am Link to this comment

Hey, Jay, why didn’t you sell a couple of your cars and keep paying your employees until the strike is over?  Greedy fat traitor.

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JimBob's avatar

By JimBob, December 18, 2007 at 10:14 am Link to this comment

Hey, Jay, why didn’t you sell a couple of your cars and keep paying your employees until the strike is over?  Greedy fat coward.

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JimBob's avatar

By JimBob, December 18, 2007 at 10:13 am Link to this comment

Jay Leno = chickenpoop.  Hey, Jay, why didn’t you sell a couple of your cars and keep paying your employees until the strike is over?  Greedy fat coward.

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By JimBob, December 18, 2007 at 10:11 am Link to this comment

Jay Leno = chickenshit.  Hey, Jay, why didn’t you sell a couple of your cars and keep paying your employees until the strike is over?  Greedy fat bastard.

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By NBC Insider, December 18, 2007 at 9:48 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Jay was not actually involved in the decision making process—he was hiding a nearby closet.

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By antispin, December 18, 2007 at 8:55 am Link to this comment


Do you suppose this might be part of the reason why these tapes are destroyed?

“BROADCAST EXCLUSIVE: Yemeni Man Imprisoned at CIA “Black Sites” Tells His Story of Kidnapping and Torture
Mohamed Farag Ahmad Bashmilah, a victim of the CIA rendition program—kidnapped, held in secret jails, and tortured—speaks out in his first broadcast interview. In the fall of 2003, Bashmilah was detained in Jordan and turned over to the CIA. He was eventually flown to a secret prison he later found out was in Kabul, Afghanistan. In CIA custody, Mohamed says he was held in a freezing-cold cell, interrogated, shackled, force-fed and subjected to sleep deprivation and loud music for days. He attempted suicide at least three times. He talks about his interrogators and the American psychiatrists or psychologists who also played a role. Bashmilah has brought a lawsuit against Jeppesen Dataplan, a Boeing subsidiary, accused of abetting his kidnapping. In an in-depth and detailed interview from his home in Yemen, Bashmilah tell us his harrowing story. [includes rush transcript–partial]”

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By Timothy J. Carroll, December 18, 2007 at 6:36 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Glad you’re on top of this.

We frequent your site and enjoy it very much.

We linked to you in our Hypertext Bazaar:

Thanks for digging up the truth!


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By JF, December 18, 2007 at 5:26 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“A democratic civilization will save itself only if it makes the language of the image into a stimulus for critical reflection; not an invitation for hypnosis.” - Umberto Eco


AMERICA’S REAL OPPOSITION SHACKLED ! With Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show”, “The Colbert Report” and Bill Maher’s “Real Time” out of the way, the 2008 presidential campaign can go on without being questioned outside the script. There is no more popular political education going on, this side of Moyers and Olbermann.

The joke is on America & we ain’t laughing.

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”-Edward Bernays, Propaganda

Parts of the reasons why this is the case and why this strike plays well in The Man’s hands…

Highest Bidder

“A cynical, mercenary, demagogic press will produce in time a people as base as itself”: Joseph Pulitzer


“We are watching a poorly staged rendition of Wag the Dog , interpreted for the morbidly stupid and performed by the criminally insane.” - Jules Carlysle

For indeed…

“Politics is the entertainment branch of industry” - Frank Zappa

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By antispin, December 17, 2007 at 8:14 pm Link to this comment

I’ve heard the WGA are working to create their own web startup:,1,1468676,full.story?coll=la-headlines-frontpage

That sounds like an excellent idea!

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