Late-night TV is already eyeing a return post-strike, plus what to expect

Stephen Colbert (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)
Stephen Colbert (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images) /

Late-night TV’s return could be just around the corner. After the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) reached a tentative agreement to end the months-long strike, reports indicate late-night TV is waiting and ready.

The union of writers left their jobs in May, putting late-night TV and the rest of Hollywood on hiatus. While some daytime talk shows and even Real Time with Bill Maher considered a return, most late-night TV programs stood by and awaited a fair deal to reach the WGA.

Now that it seems like it’s a reality, late-night TV is plotting its official comeback. According to Variety, a source inside late-night TV suggested that producers and hosts are eager to return. “I think everybody’s leaning forward, like they’re ready to go…. I would look for them to return on October 2 or October 9,” the insider shared. “I think that they are going to be very motivated to get their crews working again.”

Variety’s sources added that networks such as ABC, NBC, and CBS could coordinate the return of late-night TV rather than have a race to be first. It would continue a trend of cooperation in the genre, exemplified by the Strike Force Five podcast co-hosted by Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers, Jimmy Kimmel, and John Oliver.

Once the WGA approves a return to work, late-night TV shows must reassemble their writing staffs and crews. That may take some time, but as the insiders suggested, most people involved want to get back on the air.

What to expect when late-night TV returns

Colbert, Kimmel, and the other hosts will likely have a lot to say once they get back on the air. Expect a symbolic standing ovation for the writers who endured the strike without backing down on their demands.

For Fallon specifically, it will be interesting to see if he directly responds to allegations he oversaw a toxic work environment at The Tonight Show. However, the excitement of getting back on air may push that issue to the side.

The biggest question mark that remains comes down to the guests. The Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) is still on strike. That means actors cannot promote new projects. Instead, look for athletes, politicians, musicians, reality TV stars, and comedians to make up the bulk of the late-night TV guest lineup.