November 17, 2007 / 1:25 AM / 10 years ago

Writers' strike cuts into musicians' TV time

LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - By the second week of the Hollywood writers’ strike, at least a dozen acts had been bumped from bookings on late-night TV, which began airing repeats immediately after writers walked out November 5.

According to listings sent out by “Late Show With David Letterman” prior to the Writers Guild of America strike, acts scheduled to perform on the show in the last couple of weeks included Paul Anka, Trisha Yearwood, Common, Alicia Keys, Carrie Underwood and Jimmy Eat World.

Among the many other appearances that didn’t happen as planned were the Hives’ gig on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” Shaggy’s on “The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson” and appearances by Little Big Town, Band of Horses, Motion City Soundtrack and the Plain White T’s on “Late Night With Conan O‘Brien.”

Representatives for “Today,” “Good Morning America” and “Live With Regis and Kelly,” which are not in reruns, said their musical guests were performing as scheduled.

For top-tier acts, late-night talk show bookings are not generally thought to produce music sales spikes on the scale of daytime TV, the big exception being “Saturday Night Live.” Amy Winehouse and Kid Rock lost gigs on the show.

“There is definitely momentum lost,” said Atlantic general manager/vice president of marketing and creative media Livia Tortella, whose label is putting out Kid Rock’s “Rock n Roll Jesus.” “There’s so few national (opportunities) on television for music as it is.”

The label is exploring licensing opportunities to fill in the gap in national exposure for the album caused by the “SNL” cancellation, Tortella said.

There has also been some talk of the programs returning with substitute hosts, or with the original hosts, minus writers -- as Johnny Carson did during the last writers strike in 1988. In that scenario, bands could have a shot at getting rescheduled.

Some artists, such as Keys and Underwood, were also booked on daytime TV. But not everyone was so lucky. Brooklyn, N.Y.-based independent band Grizzly Bear had been booked for “Late Night” on November 6 -- the day Warp Records released its EP, “Friend.” The group had been rehearsing for two weeks with a six-person choir.

“It was very disappointing,” manager Ami Kay Spishock said of the cancellation. And though “they’re going to make every effort to rebook us,” the release-date timing was important, Spishock said. “You can’t get that back.”

Reuters/Billboard

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