With Strike Over, Late Night Shows to Return Next Week

After a five-month hiatus, most late night shows will return with new episodes next week now that the 148-day screenwriter strike has been resolved, the hosts announced on social media on Wednesday morning.

Late night shows hosted by Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel and Seth Meyers will return to the air on Monday, the hosts said. John Oliver will return to his HBO show, “Last Week Tonight,” on Sunday.

Late night shows were the first casualty of the writers’ strike, and they have been dark since early May. The Writers Guild of America, the union representing more than 11,000 writers, reached a tentative deal with the major entertainment studios on Sunday night. Board members of the Writers Guild approved of the deal on Tuesday, and announced that the strike would end early Wednesday morning.

Over the past few weeks, the five late-night hosts began a podcast, “Strike Force Five,” donating all proceeds to out-of-work staff members on their shows.

“This is the Strike Force 5 signing off and the late night 5 signing back on,” the hosts said in their social media message.

With tens of thousands of actors still on strike, late night and daytime talk shows are among the only television genres that can resume production. Most other scripted television and movie productions will remain idled until the actors’ strike is resolved.

Other talk shows, including ones hosted by Bill Maher and Drew Barrymore, are also expected to return soon — just weeks after those two hosts reversed decisions to return to air, even with their own writers still walking picket lines.

Bill Maher announced two weeks ago that his HBO show was returning before reversing the decision.Credit…Janet Van Ham/HBO

On Sept. 13, Mr. Maher announced the return of his weekly HBO show, “Real Time With Bill Maher,” without writers, but he walked back the decision a week later. Ms. Barrymore paused the planned return of her talk show, “The Drew Barrymore Show,” the day before it was set to air amid a searing social media backlash. She was also removed as host of the National Book Awards. “The Jennifer Hudson Show” and “The Talk” also rolled back previously announced plans to start broadcasting new episodes.

“Saturday Night Live,” the late night NBC stalwart, is also expected to return some time in October, according to a person briefed on the plans who spoke on condition of anonymity because no announcement had been made.

Some daytime talk shows, including “The View” and “Live With Kelly and Mark,” have continued taping new episodes during the strike.

It is not yet clear what type of guests the talk shows will be able to book with actors still on strike. SAG-AFTRA, the actors’ union, has forbidden its members from promoting any work done with the studios they are striking against.

The five-month hiatus is unusual for late night. During the early stages of the pandemic, most talk shows returned within weeks, albeit with virtual shows. During the 2007 writers’ strike, which lasted 100 days, hosts of late-night shows stayed off the air for two months, before they gradually returned even with the walkout continuing.

There is also an open question to how big of an audience will return for new episodes of late night talk shows. In recent years, with more and more viewers drifting away from traditional network television in favor of streaming, late night show ratings have taken a hit. During the strikes, viewership totals fell even more.

“Four of the five leaders in late night have seen double-digit decreases in reach during the late fringe time slot, with some losing as much as 50 percent of their audience during those hours,” said Ashwin Navin, the chief executive of Samba TV, a research group. “It remains to be seen how late night will rebound to its previous relevance.”

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