NEW YORK — TV late-night hosts planned to return to their evening skits and monologues starting next week, restarting a stream of topical humor that had been muted for five months because of the writers’ strike that just ended in Hollywood.
Bill Maher led the charge again early Wednesday, announcing that his HBO show “Real Time with Bill Maher” would return to the air on Friday. By mid-morning, the hosts of NBC’s “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and CBS’ “Late Show with Stephen Colbert” had announced they would follow suit. . Be back by Monday. “Last Week Tonight,” with John Oliver, was scheduled to return to the air Sunday.
Fallon, Meyers, Kimmel, Colbert and Oliver spent the latter part of the strike teaming up for a popular podcast called “Strike Force Five,” named after their personal text threads, with all proceeds going to their unemployed writers. On Wednesday, they announced on Instagram that their “mission is complete.”
Plans for some late-night shows that use guest hosts, such as “Saturday Night Live” and Comedy Central’s “Daily Show,” were not immediately clear when the strike occurred.
With actors still on strike and negotiations not yet on the horizon, scripted series will take longer to return.
On Tuesday night, members of the writers’ union board of directors approved a contract agreement with the studios, bringing the industry at least partially back from a historic production halt that lasted nearly five months.
Maher had delayed returning to his talk show during the ongoing strike by writers and actors; This decision follows similar pauses on “The Drew Barrymore Show,” “The Talk” and “The Jennifer Hudson Show.”
The three-year deal with studios, producers and streaming services includes significant gains in the main areas the writers fought for — compensation, tenure, staff size and control of artificial intelligence — that match or nearly equal what they initially sought from the strike.
The union was seeking minimal increases in wages and future residual earnings from demonstrations, and would receive an increase of between 3.5 percent and 5 percent in these areas; that’s more than the studios originally offered.
The Guild also negotiated new residual payments based on the popularity of streaming shows, where writers would receive bonuses for being a part of the most popular shows on Netflix, Max and other services, but the studios initially rejected the offer. Many writers on the picket line had complained that they were not being paid properly for helping create heavily monitored properties.
On the subject of artificial intelligence, writers have gained regulation and control of the emerging technology they seek. Under the agreement, raw stories generated by AI will not be considered “literary material,” a term included in contracts for screenwriter-produced screenplays and other forms of stories. This means they won’t be competing with computers for screen credits. AI-generated stories also won’t be considered “source” material, which is contract language for novels, video games or other works that writers can adapt into screenplays.
Under the agreement, writers will have the right to use artificial intelligence in their processes if the company they work for accepts and other conditions are met. But companies can’t require a writer to use AI.