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Thursday, January 3, 2008

Late night: The day after

A few links for your consumption as the buzz fades on a first night back for Leno (no strike beard) and Letterman (awesome strike beard.)

As is the custom with the two late night heavyweights, it's all about ratings. It appears Jay won the first round with viewers. But you probably won't hear too many cheers from the Writers Guild of America, who are mighty miffed that Leno decided to pen his own monologue.

According to Deadline Hollywood Daily, "a discussion took place today between (its member) Jay Leno and the Writers Guild to clarify to him that writing for 'The Tonight Show' constitutes a violation of the Guilds’ strike rules." Leno tried to cover himself on-air by saying ,"We are following the guild thing. We can write for ourselves," but it'll be interesting to see if he defies them now that they've issued a stern warning. If you think the WGA is being pushy by picketing outside their bosses' studios (and ardent strike supporter Jimmy Kimmel certainly seems to think so), I can only imagine what they'd resort to if one of their own kept bending the rules for his benefit.

DHD also has a great round-up of the evening's festivities, as does one of our personal favorite TV critics, Alan Sepinwall of the Newark Star-Ledger, who sums everything up thusly: "We learned that Letterman intends to keep doing the same show he always does (with writers), that Leno intends the same (without writers), that Conan (without) is going out of his way to point out how much he needs his writers, that Craig Ferguson (with) is doing the same, and that Jimmy Kimmel (without) isn't happy about any of this."

Flipping back and forth between Letterman and Leno (not to mention even staying up for Conan/Ferguson/Kimmel) probably proved to be a challenge to more than just this avid TV viewer. Now that the first night is in the books, does anyone care what happens from here on out? Or do we just move on to Monday's re-launch of "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" and pray they can keep the funny going before we all waste away in a humorless society while wishing everything would return to normal?

Also: In case you missed it, Letterman's Top Ten list with striking writers from last night.

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,

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