Stewart and Colbert return to late night

Tue Jan 8, 2008 8:16am EST
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By Steven Zeitchik

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert returned to the airwaves without their striking writers Monday with similarly in-depth but divergent explorations of the walkout that had silenced the comics for more than two months.

On "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," the host dissected the various positions, mocking both sides though saving a little more acidity for the studios.

Stewart joked that the last time late night shows went off the air was for a week after 9/11. "So if my math is correct the writers strike is nine times worse than September 11."

Colbert, on the other hand, stayed mostly in character, knocking the idea of unions and strikes in general.

In a discussion with guest Richard Freeman, author of a book about unions, Colbert satirically took up the studios' side when he said that without companies "The workers would not be workers; they'd just be people unless the capitalists said here's a place to work.

Comedy Central ordered Stewart and Colbert back to the air after late night hosts from the broadcast networks were similarly instructed to return. Earlier in the day, about 30 striking writers picketed the studios where the hosts tape their shows. Late night writers were not asked to picket.

Some of Stewart's early bits appeared polished -- Colbert noted in the handoff that he was alarmed because "you seem way too prepared" and threatened to call the Writers Guild of America, which has banned members from any form of writing.

Stewart supported the writers' cause when he jabbed at the studios' position that new media revenue was not yet sufficiently established (the $1.99 charge for "The Daily Show" on iTunes was "not a content charge; it's a shipping and handling charge.")   Continued...

<p>Jon Stewart (R) and Stephen Colbert pictured at the Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, September 16, 2007. REUTERS/Mike Blake</p>