Leno NOT Given a Pass to Write Monologues

Deadline Hollywood Daily has put up a story that Jay Leno has been given a special dispensation by the WGA, or "pass," to write his monologues for his show.

It's not true.

We've spoken to our WGA sources, and here's what we have: The Guild talked on the phone with Jay today. They discussed the strike rules and how they apply to him. As a WGA member, he can't write anything, including monologues.

Jay is a strong supporter of the Guild and writers, but at the same time he has a show to put on and wanted to see if there wasn't some way he could write his monologues as a "host." The Guild told him, diplomatically, respectfully but directly, that there is not.

Jay, like so many writers, is trapped between a rock and a hard place on this. NBC has put him in a horrible position.

There is no "pass" or special dispensation. The part of DHD's story that is absolutely true is that no one wants a war between writers -- except, obviously, the media congloms.

There's NOTHING that NBC would like more than to see us all start fighting among ourselves over Leno, over Letterman, over anything. They want us distracted and squabbling, so we end up fighting with each other, and lose sight of the real issues here. I'm going to say this over and over, because it bears repeating:


All writers' beef should be with NBC, not Jay. His beef is with NBC, not other writers. We're all fighting against giant, monster corporations, and we're going to argue internally about the best way to do that. It's unavoidable. But we can't let it blow up into something that keeps us from seeing the bigger picture.

If writers lose sight of that, the media corporations win.

Jay will go on and say whatever he decides to say tonight. He's a fellow writer, and I hope he continues to support the Guild and all of us. If he does, that's wonderful, and if he makes a different choice, we'll survive and keep fighting.

Whatever happens, our focus can't waver: It's about getting a fair deal.
Now is the time to stay calm, stay strong, and, oh yeah -- don't believe everything you read.

Here's the official statement from the WGA:

LOS ANGELES – The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) and the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) have issued the following statement regarding Contract 2007 negotiations:

“A discussion took place today between Jay Leno and the Writers Guild to clarify to him that writing for The Tonight Show constitutes a violation of the Guilds’ strike rules.”

For more information about the Writers Guild of America, West, please visit
www.wga.org. For more information about the Writers Guild of America, East, please visit: www.wgaeast.org.


Geo Rule said...

Poor Jay. And not just Jay, of course. True for Conan and Kimmel as well. It's just that Jay apparently thought he was "okay" to do what he was doing re the Guild rules.

I'm pretty sure what his choice will be, but I feel badly for him and even more annoyed with NBC.

hollarback said...

Hate to see Jay put on the spot, but the rules are the rules. I am sure he will do the right thing, he is a good man. Hopefully this will be over soon.

No one is mad at Jay, how could they be?

Frustrated Bystander said...

Yeah -- Very interesting change in tone on Nikki's Deadline Hollywood site. Posting John Ridley's "Financial Core" status and repeatedly calling Letterman's independent contract an "interim agreement" and then escalating this misnomer, today, by calling it an "interim waiver."

I guess Nikki's shooting test bullets to see where the division will arise within the ranks of the WGA to get a "new scoop" and a "new story."

I guess you can't blame her for yellow journalism. If you can't get a new story during this negotiating impasse, why not create one? She is a gossip columnist after all.

Jake Hollywood said...

Fuck Jay.

He was informed previously, long before the New Year return, that the writing of a monologue was prohibited by the WGA. Using the Huckabee Defense is unacceptable. Leno knew exactly what he was doing, his insecurity and passive-agressive competitiveness with Letterman prevented Jay from adhering to the rules of WGA membership.

Leno wants to appear to be the nice guy (and he well may be, off screen) but he has a history of twisting things to his advantage while blaming others for his true nature.

The guy is a scab pure and simple.

Fire Fox said...

Nikki likes to think of herself as a journalist. Perhaps in a former life she was. Nowadays she just likes to stir the pot like any tabloid. She's a gossip mongerer, just like those before her. Think Heda Hopper/Louella Parsons/Rona Barrett. Now you can add Nikki to the hyphens.

QuoterGal said...

"There's NOTHING that NBC would like more than to see us all start fighting among ourselves over Leno, over Letterman, over anything. They want us distracted and squabbling, so we end up fighting with each other, and lose sight of the real issues here."

Yup, exactly.

My guess is that the struck company of NBC Studios, a member of AMPTP, would really like to blow this fight up, to try and buy some favorable PR somehow - after all, their really pricey PR folks are getting them exactly squat.

Best thing the WGA can do is take it easy on this one, and keep focused on the job at hand - pressuring the AMPTP back to the table (once the moguls return from Aspen and the land of Europia) and getting the writers a fair deal.

Then Jay and others in a similar spot won't have to be kept in this kind of untenable position...

Blade said...

If Jay want's to write his monologue, let him. Who died, and crowned WGA God? What is this, some sort of sick cult. Does he also need to get written permission to pee?
We are in a free country; people have a right to work if they choose to. If someone wants to strike, let them strike, if someone wants to work, it's none of your damn business. Let people choose for themselves. What are you afraid of? That your cause doesn't have enough merit?

Geo Rule said...

Fairly sure there is no "peeing" clause in the Guild rules. But thanks for playing, be sure to take your strawman with you. Buh-bye.

JimBob said...

Umm...Blade? Do you even know what a union is? See, bro..it's the kind of thing that everyone benefits from, so when the chips are down EVERYONE has to bite the bullet. Talking as if there's a Urinator's Local 321 is just bullshit. If Leno wants to talk the menschy talk, he's got to walk the union walk. Strikes create suffering and it's not his job to alleviate it single-handedly.

intrigued said...

frustrated bystander,

you keep taking offense to the deal reach between the WGA and WWP being called an "interim agreement". but that is EXACTLY what it is. Both parties have confirmed that any eventual master contract reached between the WGA and teh AMPTP will supercede the current agreement between the WGA and WWP. by definition that makes it an INTERIM AGREEMENT! so i'm not sure why you have a problem with it being called what it is.

Blade said...

I know what a union is. It is the same thing as a monopoly, only in reverse. The product is labor, the customers are companies. Unions can hold companies by the balls, much in the same way Microsoft can hold computer manufacturers and consumers by the balls. Only, there are laws to protect the latter.
It also fosters the concept of one for all and all for one, where 'everyone' benefits. Unfortunately, the threshold of benefit vs. cost is not always the same for everyone. What if someone doesn't want the same thing as everyone else? What if someone wants to make their own choices, and be in charge of their own destiny? What if someone doesn't like the facist mentality of a union? Last I checked, we live in a free society.
I respect the decision of those that choose to strike if they believe in the cause and cost of that strike, but others should be free from that burden if they choose to, and should not be scorned for it.

Benry said...

I am watching Leno right now actually, and HE IS FUNNY AS HELL!

Dave said...

benry -

I need to switch over to Jay, I'm watching Letterman and its all Bush-bashing so far...got a little chuckle from the robot sex thing, thats about it...

Spekkio said...

@ blade

Your understanding of unions seems to be lacking.

First of all, unions are not fascist in any way, shape, or form. Take a look at politicalcompass.org. The opposite of fascism (socially far-right) is anarchy (socially far-left). The opposite of communism (economically far-left) is libertarianism (economically far-right). Unions are largely an economic pact, not a social one. And they're on the left, not the right.

Second, please do a little research on the history of labor unions. What you'll find is that it's not a matter of a "monopoly on labor." It's a defense against the abuse of employers. Labor unions helped to end child labor and helped to bring about more reasonable wages, work weeks, working conditions, etc.

The simple fact is that, without the labor union, corporations would own us even more than they do now. There would likely be no middle class at all. People talk about the widening gap between the haves and the have-nots (and they're right to do so) but that gap would be far, far worse without the union movement.

In conclusion: it is in the best interest of everyone to support labor unions like the WGA. (Even the super-rich - they may not realize it, but they're shooting themselves in the foot if they don't support fair compensation for workers.)

Cava77 said...

I think the WGA are bashing Leno because his jokes and monologue he personally wrote have been much funnier and original then the same product writen by the WGA members for Letterman and I have always been a Letterman fan.

Not-A-Troll said...

2004 WGA-AFTRA Theatrical and Television Basic Agreement

Appendix A.

Article 1.A.5.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the following shall be excluded from the definition of literary material:

d. material written by the person who delivers it on the air unless such person has written material for delivery by another person as well as by himself/herself on that particular program

So if the above mentioned is true and is in the current contract, then where is Leno in the wrong?

dp said...

If the WGA doesn't actually sanction and fine and possibly kick Jay out of the union then I have no respect for the Guild. There are a lot of BTL workers who have been hit hardest by this strike. Every BTL worker knows that their respective unions would give them no quarter if they broke union rules. To sit and watch the WGA play favorites is ridiculous. I think the BTL should file a class action suit to force the WGA to enforce their own rules.

Just stay off the blogs please. There are a lot of people who are struggling right now as collateral damage from this strike. We don't need your comments about wether the very existence of a union in america is important to you. These are not government unions where employment is guaranteed. Every member in every union in entertainment still faces intense competition for jobs. You need to go back to school and learn the difference. Your sound bite like quips only serve to prove that a complicated issue like this can not be simplified so that those with little knowledge can feel that they understand the complex nature of OUR industry. I am glad that you are happy in YOUR industry and are smart enough to make yourself feel important. Your peripheral knowledge does not transcend here my friend.

Bruce said...

Jay Leno is full of shit. I've been on the Tonight Show as a performer. I've written for television and know how a show is put together and how much work is involved. Jay Leno is the biggest phony in Hollywood. If Jay really did "support the writers" (and by the way, bringing donuts to picketers isn't supporting the writers) he wouldn't go back to work. Jay Leno cares about one thing; Jay Leno. So, fuck him and his shit show.