WGA considers proceedings against Leno


Is alive.
Wackbag Staff
Aug 14, 2000
LA Times

Writers to review Leno's laugh lines

By Richard Verrier and Meg James, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
January 5, 2008

When Jay Leno returned to "The Tonight Show" this week, he made light of how he was back to writing his own jokes. But some members of the Writers Guild of America weren't laughing.

Responding to complaints by members, the WGA on Friday said it would begin proceedings to determine whether the late-night comedian had violated the guild's strike rules.

The issue flared up Wednesday when Leno crossed picket lines to resume production of NBC's "Tonight Show" after writers walked off the job in November. During his monologue Leno declared that he was writing his own material and not relying on "scabs."

Both Leno and NBC maintain that he has complied with the strike rules. Nonetheless, some guild members cringed over his remarks, citing strike rules that bar members such as Leno from writing for struck companies such as NBC.

"Jay is a longtime member of the guild and we have had several conversations with him now and it's clear to us that his writing is a violation of the strike rules," said Patric M. Verrone, president of the Writers Guild of America, West, in an interview Friday with Air America Radio host Thom Hartmann. "There are strike rules and we are going to have to enforce them."

The remarks suggested a turnabout from Thursday, when senior guild officials downplayed the dispute with Leno. They said they had no plans to pursue disciplinary actions, chalking up his remarks to a misunderstanding.

The guild stressed that pickets held outside NBC Studios in Burbank where "The Tonight Show" is taped were not targeted at Leno but at NBC, which owns the lucrative show. Still, the guild has been discouraging stars and other guests from appearing on the show.

The dispute puts the guild in an awkward position. Leno has been a vocal supporter of the writers strike. Like other late-night hosts, he has paid the salaries of staff members during the walkout and has made jokes at NBC's expense on the air.

Yet some rank-and-file writers have complained that Leno might be getting special treatment. The guild's strike rules compliance committee is expected to meet in the next week to investigate whether Leno penned his own jokes, and to recommend whether the union conduct a formal hearing into his actions, Assistant Executive Director Jeff Hermanson said.

Verrone could not be reached for comment Friday. But Hermanson said Verrone's comments were not intended to suggest that the union was intent on disciplining Leno.

"The strike rules apply to Jay Leno just like any other member, and if there are violations, the process will be followed," Hermanson said.

Union members who violate the guild's strike rules can face fines or have their membership revoked by the guild's board.

In a statement, NBC condemned the guild plans to investigate Leno. "The WGA agreement clearly permits Jay to create and perform his own monologue. The enforcement of strike rules against Jay in these circumstances would violate the federal labor laws."

For his part, Leno continued to poke fun at his predicament during Friday night's show. As he read letters sent from children, he quipped: "I didn't do the writing. I got your children to write for me."


Registered User
Jul 26, 2005
God they are a bunch of whiny little bitches. :icon_roll

Don the Radio Guy

Mar 30, 2006
Stupid unions. The guy can't even write his own fucking jokes? So if he's at a party and makes a witty comment, he's a scab?

The union is in the right for the most part in this dispute, but they're going about this the wrong way. They're going to be hated by the end of this.