Letterman Returning With Writers

According to Variety:

The WGA and David Letterman‘s Worldwide Pants have reached an agreement that will allow “Late Show with David Letterman” and “Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson” to return to the air next week with their writers.

Letterman-produced CBS shows will return Wednesday, the same day Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Kimmel get back to work–without their writers.

Worldwide Pants CEO Rob Burnett said it wasn’t tough to make a deal with the WGA. The pact was negotiated by Burnett, longtime Letterman attorneys Jim Jackoway and Alan Wertheimer and WGA leaders including WGA West prexy Patric Verrone and exec director David Young.

“I found the guild straightforward and easy to deal with,” he told Daily Variety. “It was a big decision so it took an appropriate amount of time.”

The WGA issued a statement Friday confirming the agreement, citing the deal as proof that its demands aren’t unreasonable.

“This is a comprehensive agreement that addresses the issues important to writers, particularly new media,” the Guild said. “Worldwide Pants has accepted the very same proposals that the Guild was prepared to present to the media conglomerates when they walked out of negotiations on December 7. Today’s agreement dramatically illustrates that the Writers Guild wants to put people back to work, and that when a company comes to the table prepared to negotiate seriously a fair and reasonable deal can be reached quickly.”

Of course, it helped that Worldwide Pants is a dramatically smaller company than any of the members of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and doesn’t have nearly as much at stake. Indeed, Letterman is uniquely situated as the 100% owner of his shows — something even primetime’s top players can’t claim.

Moreover, a deal that allows CBS’ latenight block to return also affords the guild a way to turn up the pressure on rival nets, particularly NBC. Peacock’s profitable latenighters, “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” could be at a competitive advantage without writers, and if A-list SAG members don’t have to cross picket lines to do Letterman and Ferguson’s shows.

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