The end of the WGA strike is drawing near, and late night shows are gearing up to return to air within the next few weeks. Insiders reveal that producers are already planning for a comeback, with a possible return date of October 2 or October 9. Late night shows fall under SAG-AFTRA’s network code deal, which is not affected by the current strike, allowing the hosts to return immediately once the new deal is approved by the WGA.
The next step for these shows is to get back in touch with crew members and writing teams who may have left during the strike. Insiders stress the importance of getting the crew back to work quickly. Though the late night shows have been off the air since April, they have continued to operate with a skeleton crew, including non-writing executive producers, digital teams, and production managers.
While some shows have been booking episodes in anticipation of their return to production, others have been strategizing guest lists that include SAG-AFTRA members promoting non-SAG related projects or guests unrelated to SAG. Musicians, sports figures, politicians, reality stars, authors, and celebrity chefs are some of the ways these shows plan to fill their time.
The return of the talk shows will not be an immediate process. Producers will need a few weeks to notify audiences of their return with original content, and they will also need time to accumulate materials for the shows. Quality is a priority, and no one wants to rush a subpar first show, according to insiders.
Fortunately, the start-and-stop nature of producing talk shows during the pandemic has prepared them for the quick turnaround. Late night shows are well-oiled machines with teams that have been working together for a long time, making them more equipped for rapid adjustments.
However, some shows may take longer to ramp back up. “The Daily Show” had been preparing for months with guest hosts in the absence of Trevor Noah, and it will likely take more time to establish a new slate of hosts. “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” which relies heavily on research and writing, may also require additional preparation time.
Certain shows, such as “Real Time with Bill Maher,” were on the verge of returning but decided to wait until the WGA and AMPTP resumed negotiations. Once negotiations are complete, these shows can quickly get back on the air.
Daytime talk shows face a similar situation. Many had planned to return last week but pushed their premieres due to backlash. However, it should be relatively easy for shows like “The Drew Barrymore Show,” “The Jennifer Hudson Show,” and “The Talk” to resume quickly since they already have their crews in place.
Overall, the return of late night and daytime talk shows is just around the corner, and audiences can expect new episodes to hit the airwaves soon.