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Green Bay Press-Gazette

Monday, December 31, 2007

Back to work for the writers ... sort of.

Score one for the writers -- or at least those who work for David Letterman and Craig Ferguson.

When "Late Show with David Letterman" and "Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" return Wednesday -- the same day Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien and Jimmy Kimmel also get back to work -- Dave's writing staff will be intact thanks to an agreement Worldwide Pants reached with the Writers Guild of America.

Worldwide Pants CEO Rob Burnett told Variety that it wasn't tough to ink a separate deal with the WGA.

"I found the guild straightforward and easy to deal with," he said. "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 in the article. "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."

As Variety also pointed out, it helps 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. Letterman is uniquely situated as the 100 percent owner of his shows.

Worldwide Pants reached out to the WGA for an interim agreement shortly after the strike began on Nov. 5. The guild only recently engaged in talks with the company, after making the strategic decision to seek individual talks with AMPTP members. And even then, it had been thought that WWP wouldn't be able to cut a deal because CBS controls the new media rights to Letterman's shows. However, as the studio that produces the shows, World Wide Pants "is responsible for paying residuals to our writers" for Internet use of said shows, Burnett said.

UDPATE! UPDATE!: The Associated Press is reporting that Robin Williams will be Letterman’s first guest on Wednesday. It "may be Letterman’s way of quickly trying to draw a distinction between his show and his late-night rivals, who are without writers and may also have trouble booking major entertainers as guests." Also, NBC’s “Tonight Show" said today that Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee will appear on Jay Leno’s first show back.

Huckabee? Hey, he's no Patch Adams.

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,

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