When Jay Leno returned to "The Tonight Show" this week, he made light of how he was back to writing his own jokes. But some members of the Writers Guild of America weren't laughing.
Responding to complaints by members, the WGA on Friday said it would begin proceedings to determine whether the late-night comedian had violated the guild's strike rules.
The issue flared up Wednesday when Leno crossed picket lines to resume production of NBC's "Tonight Show" after writers walked off the job in November. During his monologue Leno declared that he was writing his own material and not relying on "scabs."
Both Leno and NBC maintain that he has complied with the strike rules. Nonetheless, some guild members cringed over his remarks, citing strike rules that bar members such as Leno from writing for struck companies such as NBC.
"Jay is a longtime member of the guild and we have had several conversations with him now and it's clear to us that his writing is a violation of the strike rules," said Patric M. Verrone, president of the Writers Guild of America, West, in an interview Friday with Air America Radio host Thom Hartmann. "There are strike rules and we are going to have to enforce them."
The remarks suggested a turnabout from Thursday, when senior guild officials downplayed the dispute with Leno. They said they had no plans to pursue disciplinary actions, chalking up his remarks to a misunderstanding.
The guild stressed that pickets held outside NBC Studios in Burbank where "The Tonight Show" is taped were not targeted at Leno but at NBC, which owns the lucrative show. Still, the guild has been discouraging stars and other guests from appearing on the show.
The dispute puts the guild in an awkward position. Leno has been a vocal supporter of the writers strike. Like other late-night hosts, he has paid the salaries of staff members during the walkout and has made jokes at NBC's expense on the air.
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Writers to review Leno's laugh lines
I'm sure this is one reason why people don't like unions. The fact that they have rules and you shouldn't conflict with them or there's a problem. I understand some of the underlying issues in their strike and they have a right, but I wonder if going after Jay Leno makes them look good. From the Tribune...