The late-night talk show hosts are returning. But the stars are not yet ready to come out for them if it means crossing the writers’ picket line. Celebrities don’t want to be the first to accept a booking on a show and face the wrath of the writers alone.
Uncertainty over whether many of Hollywood’s biggest stars will be willing to cross picket lines and appear on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” and “Late Night With Conan O’Brien,” both on NBC; CBS’s “Late Show With David Letterman”; or “Jimmy Kimmel Live” on ABC has the programs’ producers in a frenzy as they try to book guests for the shows, which are scheduled to return with fresh episodes Jan. 2.
One publicist for an actor who is starring in a film scheduled for wide release in January said that clients of her agency were likely to wait and see what the reaction was to any actors who decided to cross a picket line.
“I don’t think there will be a rush to go on the shows,” said the publicist, who works for one of the largest Hollywood agencies and who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Noting the criticism that greeted Ellen DeGeneres and Carson Daly when they returned to their talk shows earlier during the strike, she added: “We will wait to see if there will be that kind of fallout. It’s such a sensitive issue, and a personal issue for each actor as well.”
Producers for the shows say they have been contacting potential guests since the strike by the Writers Guild of America began on Nov. 5, keeping potential guests lined up in case of a swift settlement.
“Certain guests said they wouldn’t come, certain guests said they would,” Jeff Ross, an executive producer of “Late Night With Conan O’Brien,” said in a conference call with reporters on Monday. “The temperature may be changing a little bit as we go forward.”