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Letterman Reaches Deal with WGA For Jan. 2 Return

Late-night host David Letterman won’t have to just wing it next week when he returns to the air, as his production company has cut its own deal with the striking Writers Guild of America.

Worldwide Pants, producer of CBS’s Late Show with David Letterman and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, said Friday that it had reached a deal with the WGA, which went out on strike Nov. 5 in a dispute with studios represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, with the major hang-up over residuals for use of content on new media.

The strike put TV’s late-night shows off the air, but most of them are now set to return in early January, without writers. Now Letterman can resume broadcasting Jan. 2 with his writers toiling and creating his material. 

“The Writers Guild has reached a binding independent agreement today with Worldwide Pants that will allow Late Show with David Letterman and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson to return to the air with their full writing staffs,” the WGA said in a statement. “This is a comprehensive agreement that addresses the issues important to writers, particularly new media. Worldwide Pants has accepted the very same proposals that the Guild was prepared to present to the media conglomerates when they walked out of negotiations on Dec. 7.”

Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report are slated to go back on the air Jan. 7 without their writers.

Regarding the deal with Letterman, the WGA said, “Today’s agreement dramatically illustrates that the Writers Guild wants to put people back to work, and that when a company comes to the table prepared to negotiate seriously a fair and reasonable deal can be reached quickly.”

Michael Winship, president of the WGA East, also released his own comments about the WGA’s pact with Worldwide Pants.

“We are pleased that an interim agreement has been reached with Worldwide Pants that will get David Letterman and Craig Ferguson back on the air, an agreement that reflects the same fair and respectful deal we have been trying to bargain with the AMPTP for months,” Winship said. “We hope that other companies will now also come forward and negotiate in good faith so that Letterman and Ferguson's colleagues Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and others can return to the air with the talented Guild writing staffs who are so essential to their success and popularity.”