O'Brien to Pay Nonstriking Staffers
By FRAZIER MOORE
NEW YORK (AP) - With his nonstriking "Late Night" staffers facing layoffs after Friday, Conan O'Brien has promised to cover their salaries next week, an NBC spokeswoman said Thursday.
"He's paying the staffers' salaries out of his own pocket," NBC spokeswoman Rebecca Marks said. She said O'Brien had informed his staffers earlier in the day. The nonwriting staff numbers about 75.
Production of "Late Night" has been suspended since the writers strike began Nov. 5.
Through this week, NBC had been covering the salaries of its nonwriting staffers, along with those of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and "Last Call with Carson Daly," which are also in reruns.
But the network thus far has not said whether it intends to continue paying employees of any show on hiatus. All three programs are owned by Universal Media Studios, which, like NBC, is owned by General Electric.
Two weeks ago, before NBC made its initial arrangement, O'Brien had pledged to pay his staffers should the need arise. O'Brien is a member of the striking Writers Guild of America, as are fellow hosts Leno, ABC's Jimmy Kimmel and CBS's David Letterman.
About the same time, staffers of "Late Show with David Letterman" and "Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" were promised continued payment at least through December by Letterman, whose production company, Worldwide Pants, owns both shows. They continue in reruns.
Staffers for "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" continue to be paid by ABC, according to a network spokesperson.
Earlier this week, Daly, who is not a WGA member, announced "Last Call" was resuming production, with new shows to begin airing next week.
Defending his decision to return to work, Carson said in a statement that, otherwise, "roughly 75 staff and crew would have lost their jobs."
"As a non-WGA member I feel I have supported my four Guild writers and their strike by suspending production for a month," he said.
Negotiations between striking TV and movie writers and producers continued Thursday.