ABC's Jimmy Kimmel to join late-night TV return

Tue Dec 18, 2007 6:12pm EST
 
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By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A day after NBC late-night TV hosts Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien said they would return to the airwaves despite the Hollywood writers strike, ABC rival Jimmy Kimmel said on Tuesday he would follow them across picket lines.

Like his NBC counterparts, the host "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" plans to resume fresh broadcasts on January 2 without staff writers, who presumably will still be on strike at that point, to put the rest of his production crew back to work.

"Though it makes me sick to do so without my writers, there are more than a hundred people whose financial well-being depends on our show," Kimmel said in a statement.

Kimmel and his late-night peers on other networks have been in reruns since the Writers Guild of America launched its walkout against major studios on November 5, in a dispute that hinges on how writers are paid for their work on the Internet.

Like Leno, O'Brien and CBS "Late Show" host David Letterman, Kimmel had resisted mounting pressure to resume production during the strike even as ratings for his show and the others sank sharply.

But the late-night stars decided to break ranks with the WGA and return to work after contract talks collapsed again on December 7, dashing hopes for a quick settlement and leaving the shows' laid-off production staffers in the lurch.

"I support my colleagues and friends in the WGA completely, and hope this ends both fairly and soon," Kimmel said. He, like most other late-night TV hosts, has dual union membership as both a writer and a performer.

The Writers Guild on Monday expressed gratitude to the hosts of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" for supporting the strike as long as they did, saying the union held no ill will toward them for going back.   Continued...

 
<p>Comedian Jimmy Kimmel in Hollywood, July 11, 2007. A day after NBC late-night TV hosts Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien said they would return to the airwaves despite the Hollywood writers strike, ABC rival Jimmy Kimmel said on Tuesday he would follow them across picket lines. REUTERS/Phil McCarten</p>