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NBC Mulls Late-Night Replacements
Layoffs on 'Tonight,' 'Late Night' could come this week
November 12, 2007

Jay LenoLayoffs at NBC's late-night staples could begin this week -- or the network could keep at least "The Tonight Show" on the air with guest hosts later this month.

Those are two of the possibilities the networks is considering for its top-rated late-night lineup, which was in repeats last week as a result of the Writers Guild strike and will be again this week. "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno and "Late Night's" Conan O'Brien, both of whom also write material for their shows, have refused to cross picket lines. The same is true of CBS' "Late Show" and "Late Late Show" and ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live."

Because the shows are idle, NBC has informed the non-writing employees of both shows that layoffs could begin as soon as Friday. The folks at "Last Call" are in the same boat, according to a number of news outlets.

WGA Writers' Strike Roundup
NBC is also, however, considering bringing at least "The Tonight Show" back onto the air, with guest hosts filling in for Leno, Broadcast & Cable reports. A guest-hosted show -- one still without writers -- could get on the air as soon as Monday, Nov. 19.

"All sorts of things are being discussed, including guest hosts," "Tonight Show" executive producer Debbie Vickers says in a statement. "Our preference is that we return to production of 'The Tonight Show' with Jay as host as soon as possible. We want to protect the staff, who have been loyal to this show for decades, in the same way that Johnny Carson reluctantly returned without his writers in 1988."

Carson returned to "Tonight" during 1988 writers strike, thereby providing work and a paycheck to the camera crew, grips and other staff members of the show. David Letterman followed suit, famously filling time during one writerless show by getting a shave.

If NBC does decide to go the guest-host route, the not-insignificant question will be who would cross the picket line to fill Leno's chair. No names have been floated yet.
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