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Jimmy Fallon allegations and Strike Force Five

According to a report in Rolling StoneFormer and current employees of NBC’s “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” say their workplaces have been toxic for years and are “far beyond what’s considered normal in the high-pressure world of late-night TV.” He points to Fallon’s “erratic behavior” as a factor.

The allegations came amid an ongoing writers’ strike that has caused “The Tonight Show” and other late-night talk shows to be suspended indefinitely since May.

The story in Rolling Stone describes a setting on “The Tonight Show”: “It’s commonplace to hear people joke about ‘wanting to kill themselves’ and guests refer to office locker rooms as ‘crying rooms’. “This is where they go to vent their feelings when they are upset about alleged mistreatment.”

The magazine says the show has reached 80 past and present employees. “While many praised Fallon’s tremendous talent and comedic talents, none of them agreed to speak on the recording or said anything positive about working on ‘The Tonight Show’. Since 2014, none of the show’s nine showrunners have commented on the show’s name on record; They don’t even issue statements of support as is common in the entertainment industry. Representatives for Fallon also had no comment on the story.

The timing of the report is ironic. Late last month, Fallon and his late-night co-hosts Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Meyers, and John Oliver launched a limited podcast series called “Strike Force Five” for Spotify.

Kimmel explains the premise of the first episode: “The reason we do this is to support our staff financially. We have hundreds of members on our staff – writers, you name it, anyone who works on a TV show is currently unemployed – and so all the money we make from that show goes to them, largely thanks to our presenting sponsors. ”

Landlords are conspicuously tight-lipped about financial details. How much do sponsors give? Is the total split equally among the five hosts or is it adjusted for staff size? Who is responsible for ensuring the money reaches employees? Do the hosts make the podcast free, or does Spotify pay their employees in addition to the money raised from sponsors? If so, how much? Is this pure sacrifice? Or do they do it because they are artists who want to do it? need Performing for reasons driven by their own ego?

A more pressing question in light of the allegations: What does this mean for “Strike Force Five”? Will other hosts continue to rise with Fallon’s advancement? These are public figures who genuinely care about the people who work for them, trying to build a reputation as decent people. They’re funny but they care. How could going on about Fallon – as if nothing were wrong – not obscure this? Suddenly podcasting has become a much more complex proposition; The staff of each late-night show had to just stare in horror and hope the sponsor would check.

At the beginning of the strike, Fallon’s was the first show. stop pays its staff. (Kimmel in the final episode of “Strike Force Five”) aforementioned Both Matt Damon and Ben Affleck appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” He offered to pay his employees two weeks’ salary. but Kimmel turned them down, saying it wasn’t their responsibility.) In terms of compensation, Fallon, Colbert and Kimmel have annual revenues of over $15 million; Meyers and Oliver are closer to the seven-figure range. .

Nina Metz is a Tribune critic.

nmetz@chicagotribune.com

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