Not since the Helen Kushnick debacle 15 years ago when his manager crashed and burned as The Tonight Show‘s exec producer has Jay Leno taken such a terrible PR wallop as he did today. Today’s Drudge headline, misleadingly, says “Leno fires staff” when what happened is that about 120 of the show’s non-writing staffers today were laid off by NBC due to Leno’s refusal along with the rest of the Top 5 late night hosts to cross WGA picket lines (since they’re all guild members and supporting the writers). And everyone knows Jay was treated horribly by NBC which ordered him to leave in 2009 to make way for Conan – the result of yet another shake-up orchestrated by Jeff Zucker in a brutal way. Problem is, Leno looks like a shit for lotsa other reasons.
The worst is that news reports trumpeted that, just a couple of days after the WGA strike began November 5th, he assured staffers they didn’t have to worry because their paychecks would be safe. So I was told many of the laid-off employees left NBC’s Burbank offices this morning in a sea of tears and expressing a sense of betrayal and wondering aloud “Where’s Jay?” (Along with some vocal muttering about the big bucks he spends on his famous car collection…) True, Jay’s Big Dog Productions only co-produces The Tonight Show whereas David Letterman’s Worldwide Pants owns The Late Show and The Late Late Show and is paying production staff. But today Conan O’Brien, whose company Conaco also doesn’t own Late Night, began picking up the tab for his show’s 80 employees which sure puts Leno in an awkward position since he hasn’t. Especially since it’s so well known that Jay lives off his outside gigs and banks his Tonight Show salary.
It’s one thing to be angry at NBC and not want to help the network, yet quite another to not financially help The Tonight Show employees who helped make him No. 1 in the ratings pre-strike. Instead of doing it himself, Leno had his assistant notify the staff yesterday that they would get their Christmas bonus early. Well, big fucking deal. (One news report said the bonus is only $100 for each year worked.) I, for one, don’t understand why right now Leno isn’t front and center or making a statement or otherwise protecting his public image — especially if he exits NBC to jump-start Fox’s late night talk in 2009.
This is guaranteed to make Hollywood hate Ben even more without Silverman even shooting off his mouth in the press yet again. How nice for him that Shine, the UK indie owned and run by Elisabeth Murdoch, will snag his production company for … Read More »
THURSDAY PM UPDATE: I’m told WGA negotiators are still waiting for the other “half” of the AMPTP’s Day #4 new proposals (the half that presumably contains the missing terms on ESTs, electronic sell-throughs?) which agent Bryan Lourd said should be … Read More »
(Keep refreshing for the latest…) I was told last night by a top Hollywood CEO that the moguls had decided to allow AMPTP to put on the negotiating table a sweetened deal at Talks Day #4 today. “The producers are trying to put something on the table tomorrow [Thursday] … Read More »
There’s little more to say about Wednesday’s talks other than that, unfortunately. “This is not heading in the right direction,” a mogul quoted his labor exec as saying to him yesterday. Another source told me, “It’s stalemated. Nothing’s getting achieved.”
There’s another ”Gay Gate” picketing event organized by members of the WGA West’s Gay & Lesbian Writers Committee for gay and lesbian writers, talent, and other supporters today at NBC Studios in Burbank (at the Alameda Gate) from 10 AM to 1 PM.
I’m told the AMPTP’s so-called PR council formed by corporate communications execs at the studios and networks really want to make their own clever YouTube videos to compete with the ones up and running by striking WGA members. No greenlights yet. Until then, here’s a wry WGA-member written video entitled “Harsh … Read More »
Here’s an interesting writers strike PR nugget I just found out: Turns out both sides, first the Hollywood moguls and then the WGA, wanted to hire former Clinton White House press secretary Joe Lockhart as their official mouthpiece. Lockhart, now founding partner and president of … Read More »
Stagehands and producers have reached tentative agreement to end the walkout tonight. The strike initiated by Local One on November 10th lasted 19 days before the union came to a resolution with the League of American Theatres and Producers.
Yes, the AMPTP and WGA are still talking — or what passes for talking between this bunch. What was only supposed to be three days of talks is now four days of talks. Next round skedded for 10 AM Thursday.
UPDATE: I’ll have a full report about the Talks Day #3.
“Shout out to all the pickets at Television City. Let them know writers won’t be treated shitty.” Rumor has it the lyrics on this video are to be committed to memory by Friday (or you striking writers will be forced to picket at Paramount…).