NBC host Carson Daly to defy writers strike

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - NBC’s after-hours star Carson Daly is poised to become the first U.S. late-night television talk show host to cross the picket lines of striking Hollywood writers.

Television personality Carson Daly stands in front of the camera during New Year celebrations in Times Square in New York in this file photo from Dec. 31, 2006. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

“Last Call with Carson Daly,” which immediately halted production at the outset of the screenwriters’ strike three weeks ago, plans to resume taping Wednesday for new episodes that will begin airing next week, an NBC spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

No guest roster for the half-hour show, which airs daily at 1:35 a.m. Eastern time, was revealed, and it was not clear which night next week the program would return.

“He wanted to go back to support his staffers,” the network spokeswoman said.

The General Electric Co.-owned network had informed the non-writing staff of Daly’s show, as well as “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” that they face layoffs at the end of this week unless they returned to the airwaves.

All three programs, along with shows hosted by David Letterman and Craig Ferguson on CBS, Jimmy Kimmel on ABC and Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert on cable network Comedy Central, were thrown into reruns when the Writers Guild of America launched its strike on November 5.

NBC’s weekly sketch comedy show “Saturday Night Live” also was knocked out of production.

NBC said there were no immediate plans for any of its other shows to return to production, and there was no indication the late-night programs on other networks intended to do so.

Representatives of several late-night shows were reported earlier this month to be quietly discussing among themselves when it might be appropriate for their hosts to return to the air without their writing staffs.

Doing so presumably would require the late-night hosts, who generally depend on a steady stream of topical jokes and comedy bits, to work with less-scripted material, perhaps with more time devoted to interviews.

But while the stars have expressed concern about the financial well-being of their idled crews, they also have been supportive of their writers and were said to be reluctant to be seen as the first to resume production during a strike.

Daly is not a member of the Writers Guild, which has been picketing regularly outside the NBC studio where his show is taped. The WGA had no immediate comment on Daly’s plans.

Representatives for the striking writers and the major film and TV studios resumed contract talks for a second straight day on Tuesday as Hollywood’s worst labor clash in nearly 20 years stretched into its fourth week.

The two sides returned to the bargaining table Monday for the first time since the strike began, and have imposed a media blackout on their meetings.

The WGA’s old contract expired on November 1, and the union launched its strike four days later as talks deadlocked on the question of how much money writers should earn in “residual” fees when their work is delivered via the Internet and wireless devices like cell phones.