STRIKE COVERAGE: Leno Stays Mum as Writers, Actors Rally

The Tonight Show host Jay Leno declined to comment Tuesday on NBC’s consideration of bringing the show back with guest hosts in lieu of laying off staff at the end of this week.

“I just don’t want to say anything that could slow up the process,” he told B&C when asked about the strike Tuesday as he pulled up on his motorcycle at a rally at Universal Studios.

As first reported by B&C Friday, the use of guest hosts is one way the network and show are looking at keeping nonwriting staff in their jobs.

An NBC spokesperson said Tuesday that the situation is still being evaluated.

Tonight Show head writer Joe Medeiros last week said Leno will not be the first late-night host to cross the picket line.

“I talk to Jay every day, and he will not be the first [late-night host] to cross the picket line,” Medeiros said Friday.

Leno’s no comment came as the Writers Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild drew a huge crowd to a protest at Universal Studios Tuesday.

While there was no formal program, many actors turned up to join the writers in solidarity for the work stoppage that began last Monday.

Among the dozens of celebrities on hand were cast members from shows such as Desperate Housewives, Scrubs, The Riches and CSI.

And as the strike goes on, the picketing signs continue to become more and more aggressive.

Among the more rabid words written on cardboard signs Tuesday were “Another Money Pinching Tiny Penis” (held by Kathy Griffin) and “AMPTP I Really Hate U Right Now” (held by Sarah Silverman).

In the hot sun (temperatures reached about 90 Tuesday in the area), some comical exchanges helped keep things cool.

Julia Louis Dreyfus, who has made multiple appearances at WGA picket lines, was venting about revenues from online airings of content. “It’s not going in our pocket, it’s not going in the directors’ pocket and it’s not going in the writers’ pocket. Where is it going?”

“Maybe I should have just bought a big pocket,” shot back actress Lily Tomlin, standing next to Dreyfus.

One of the better exchanges away from media cameras was between Donald Faison of Scrubs and actor Todd Bridges, who hadn’t previously met.

“People always say we look alike,” Faison said.

“I’m 43 years old, so that’s good by me,” Bridges shot back.

For a gallery of photos from the picket line, click here.

For full coverage of the strike, click here.