A person close to NBC told HuffPost that non-writers on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” will not be paid after this Friday and will be put on a “unpaid leave of absence” as long as the writer’s strike lasts. The source, who asked to remain anonymous because they were afraid of retaliation, said that the staff suddenly got emails on Monday night telling them to call on Tuesday morning to find out the news.
“You know, it just kind of felt a little like a classic layoff — the night before, having an HR meeting put on your calendar,” the source said. “And so we hopped on the call. We weren’t really able to ask any questions. It was just, we were told that the language they’re using is that we are on ‘an unpaid leave of absence,’ is how they are framing it. They’re not using ‘layoff’ or ‘furlough,’ but we are not getting paid. This is our last paid week. Our final paychecks will come in next week.”
Sarah Kobos, another “Tonight Show” employee, also said on Tuesday that “non-union staff who aren’t writers” were told they would be put on an “unpaid leave of absence.” Reps for “The Tonight Show” didn’t reply right away when asked for a comment. Several sources told HuffPost that Seth Meyers, Stephen Colbert, and Jimmy Kimmel are still paying their workers.
A tweet related to this topic:
“Tonight Show” will reportedly stop paying its non-writing staff members on Friday.https://t.co/JNomQl0rg9
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) May 16, 2023
(No one from any of the three shows responded right away to a request for comment.) Since May 2, 11,500 TV and film writers in the Writers Guild of America East and West have been on strike over pay and working conditions. This includes writers for the big late-night shows. (The organized staff at HuffPost are also part of the WGAE.)
On Tuesday, the strike went into its third week, and writers are still waiting for studio executives to return to the bargaining table and make a fair deal on important issues like equal pay in the streaming era, career development, and protections regarding the use of artificial intelligence. The person who talked about conditions at “The Tonight Show” showed support for the writers who were on strike.
The strike has had the most direct effect on the late-night shows, which stopped making new episodes as soon as the strike started and have been showing old ones ever since. At the start of the strike on May 2, the staff of Fallon’s show found out that they would only get paid through the end of the week and have health insurance through the end of May.
This made some people angry. Multiple people said that Fallon changed his mind the next day. At a morning meeting, he told his staff that they would still get paid. NBC said that the staff of Fallon’s and Meyers’ shows would be paid for the first three weeks of the strike. For the fourth week, the stars would pay the staff themselves. The workers would also have health insurance until September.
During the strike, a lot of people who worked in film and TV have been out of work until Hollywood studios and companies come to an agreement with the writers. As of last week, writers, other people who work in the entertainment business, and union supporters had raised nearly $2 million to help strike-affected workers.