Monday, January 7, 2008

My drug is back

Oh, how I love my late-night. (Or is that late-nite?)

It's back! Every last bit of it, as of tonight. Two have writers; David Letterman's production company, Worldwide Pants, negotiated a separate deal with the WGA, which gives Letterman and his follow-up, Craig Ferguson, a full writing complement. Most do not -- Leno, Conan, Kimmel, Carson Daly, and they are joined now by Comedy Central's Stewart and Colbert.

Stewart and Colbert are the two most desperately missed right now because of their political commentary. I can't tell you how unspeakably disappointed I was that Letterman did not see this vacuum and jump on it with his writing staff, but he's been less and less political and less interested in putting any time and effort into his monologue for years now. (Exhibit A: The "Will It Float?" bit, in which he heaves something random into a tank of water to see if it will float. Honestly.)

Without writers, they couldn't do as much tonight, though I have to say that the level of preparedness and polish is going to bring the wrath of the WGA down on their heads as well as Leno's. Still, Jon Stewart's unholy glee at pointing out Chuck Norris behind Huckabee at his victory speech, and Colbert's sly clip show of all the Democrats suddenly saying the word 'change' were like water on a parched desert for me. (Can a desert be parched? I think I need writers.)

Beloved and truly needed as I think they are during an election, no A-list guests for them. Leno is having a hell of a time getting guests with the SAG supporting the WGA. I couldn't help watching tonight, but my WGA sympathies may stop me from looking in the future. I took a similar curious glance at Leno, who was quite awful without his writers. Happily, my favorite Craig Ferguson has his writers and I can watch him with no qualms. Ironically, he's always been the most improvisational of anyone on late-night, and would probably have done extremely well and made some waves without writers. Oh well.

Tom Hanks just pointed out that Dave Letterman getting his beard shaved off on the show is something a show without writers would do. Ha. True enough, but then again, so is "Will it float?" I must say, this strike has not shown Letterman in his best light. Icon though he is, I'll be quite happy if he turns his crown over to Stewart sometime in the next few years.

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