On Tuesday, Jay Leno went viral with a sweet gesture: Just as he did in 2007, comedian and former show tonight The host distributed donuts to the striking writers as a public act of solidarity. While most online audiences responded positively to the move, a few expressed what they saw as hypocrisy.
Members of the Writers Guild of America recently went on strike as studios refused to meet demands for more livable wages, among other protections. At the union’s last strike in 2007, just as this week, Leno showed his support for the writers with sweet treats. But after the moment went viral, a former writer from Leno’s two-season comedy game show Bet Your Life With Jay Leno claimed that the demonstration owed “millions” unpaid residual debt to union workers.
“This is really good!” tweeting author Dicky Eagan. “But you know what could be better than a $30 donut? If @jayleno helped track down millions of dollars in the leftovers of his show @youbetyourlife he has debt @wga and other union workers.” Then, in response to a WGA captain who publicly thanked Leno for his support, Eagan Additional“It’s just not right to haul a $100,000 car to distribute $30 worth of donuts after refusing to pay the authors millions of leftovers. @WGAWest solidarity.”
Neither Eagan nor a representative of Leno responded to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.
Meanwhile, More Perfect Union reporter and producer Jordan Zakarin noticed on Twitter In 2008, Leno found himself in hot water with the WGA as he chose to write his own monologues during the strike.
The 2007-2008 writers’ strike lasted 100 days and ended in favor of the writers. in his book Late Night War, reporter and writer Bill Carter wrote that at the start of the 2000s strike, senior network executives, sensing a way to undermine “the solidarity between the union and its supporters among actors, directors, and other Hollywood guilds, pressed for the latecomer almost instantly. -night hosts will return to work. They argued that presenters could host shows without writers.
In his book, Carter reported that initially most of the presenters agreed that if they came back with new episodes, they would do it as a group. In the end, however, Carter writes, David Letterman chose to use his unique position as owner of the production company to his advantage. In December 2007, news leaked that Letterman’s company had entered into an independent deal to bring its own series and Craig Ferguson’s series. Late Late Show back on the air with the authors.
From there, everyone struggled to get back on the air. Multiple late-night hosts, who are also members of the WGA, including Leno, Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart, and Jimmy Kimmel, continued production of their shows (without a writer) before the strike ended. according to a Variation report since, The move was “controversial among some in the clerk tribe.”
But Leno seems to have sparked more controversy than anyone during this time. In the fall of 2007, Reuters reported that “as many as 80” people were stunned. show tonight workers were laid off after Leno allegedly convinced them that their jobs were safe.
“He was on the speakerphone,” a source told Reuters at the time. “We were 80 people. He told us not to panic. She said trust him. “I can’t go into details but no one misses their car payment or loses their home,” he said. We are family. Trust me. I will take care of it. But this was when we needed to look for new jobs.”
A day after news of the mass layoffs broke out, news came that Leno had also decided to pay out-of-pocket payments to workers who did not write. Still, one employee told Reuters, “A lot of people don’t want to work for Jay anymore… He showed his true face.”
NBC declined to comment on the layoffs, beyond a statement saying the company had “sadly informed people who worked on ‘The Tonight Show With Jay Leno’ and ‘Late Night With Conan O’Brien’ that their service was not correct,” Reuters reported. We need it right now as we can’t continue production of the shows.”
Leno’s first episode came in January 2008 when he welcomed Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee as a guest. In his book, Carter reports that Kimmel avoided making a monologue in the spin-off for fear of crossing the line. But Leno has reportedly decided to do so. Tonight Show wouldn’t be Tonight Show without monologue.
“Do you know what I’m doing?” said Leno, opening the show. “I’m doing what I did the day I started. I write a joke and wake up my wife in the middle of the night and say, ‘Honey, is this funny?’ So if this monologue doesn’t work, it’s my wife’s fault. He says the joke is funny.”
“We don’t use outside guys,” Leno continued. Variation Since then, the report says, “We have been following the guild event. We can write for ourselves. We can’t do what CBS did. Look, Dave was able to make a deal because Dave has his own company. I don’t blame him for making a deal, God bless him. We must fight alone against the GIS machine. A man against a monologue.”
It looks like Leno is the only host to face the WGA’s trial committee in 2008. Guild leaders claimed that by writing their own material, he violated union rules that prevented members from doing “hit work”. Los Angeles times.
Both of them show tonight host and NBC argued that as a player at the time, Leno was exempt from the rule. WGA leadership objected that the exemption does not apply to players who are also writers. In 2009, the guild cleared Leno.
Years later, in 2014, Leno would express his pride in his finale. show tonight The episode said it was a “union show”.
“I’ve never worked with a more professional group of people in my life,” Leno said. “They get paid well and do a good job.”
“When the men and women on this show showed me the new car they bought or the house up the street here in Burbank, I felt like I played a bigger role in their success. It was mine. It was a great feeling.”
Along with Bernie Sanders, Amanda Seyfried, Snoop Dogg, Mark Hamill and Seth Meyers, Leno is just one of many well-known people who voiced their support for this year’s writers’ strike. On Tuesday, writer and comedian (and WGA affiliate) Adam Conover told Warner Bros. He pointed out that Discovery CEO David Zaslav’s $250 million salary was roughly equivalent to “the salary that 10,000 writers asked him to pay us all collectively.”
If the studios don’t budge, we anticipate these strike lines will need a lot more donuts.