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WGA STRIKE UPDATE: Letterman, Ferguson Target Jan. 2 Return ... with Writers

David Letterman’s production company, Worldwide Pants, targeted Jan. 2 for the return of its two late-night shows, The Late Show with David Letterman and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. But while late-night hosts Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Kimmel plan to resurface the same night, sans writers, Letterman’s shows plan to return with their writing staffs intact.

Worldwide Pants is still trying to cut a side deal with the Writers Guild of America to have its two CBS late-night shows return to the air with their staffs of guild members. That would also enable them to book guests without the picket line being a factor.

Letterman has that luxury because his production company owns both his and Ferguson’s shows. NBC owns The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Late Night with Conan O'Brien, and ABC owns Jimmy Kimmel Live.

"We are willing to agree to the writers' demands that are within our control, so we have no reason to believe that an interim agreement can’t be achieved with the WGA,” president and CEO Rob Burnett said in a statement. “As a result, our only focus is on returning Jan. 2 with writers."

The WGA has said that it will explore cutting side deals with companies other than the major media corporations that make up the power base of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

Jimmy Kimmel Live announced earlier Tuesday that it will join NBC’s Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien in returning to the air without writers Wednesday, Jan. 2.

“Although it makes me sick to do so without my writers, there are more than 100 people whose financial well-being depends on our show,” Kimmel said in a statement. “It is time to go back to work. I support my colleagues and friends in the WGA completely and hope this ends both fairly and soon.”

NBC announced Monday that its shows will return that same night, but without writers. Also in question will be what kind of guests the shows can attract, as actors may choose not to cross the picket line to appear on the late-night shows.

For full coverage of the strike, click here.