Hollywood braced for walkout

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The Independent US

The late-night talk show host David Letterman joked this week that if US film and TV writers go on strike, as is feared, he would be forced to write his own material to keep his show on the air.

"It might be fun... to tune in and see what I can come up with on my own," the sardonic star of the CBS Late Show with David Letterman said, drawing laughs from a studio audience.

The more likely scenario should the Writers Guild of America declare a strike is that Letterman would join his arch rival Jay Leno of NBC's The Tonight Show and other late-night funnymen, in taking an enforced vacation.

The Guild's contract with producers expired yesterday, setting the stage for the first major US film and television industry strike in nearly 20 years. But the Guild did not immediately call for a walkout by its 12,000 members.

As Hollywood worries about what could be a crippling confrontation, experts say TV would be hit first by a writers' strike, with soap operas and late-night talk shows halting production.

The effects on prime-time dramas and sitcoms would be little noticed by viewers initally. Writers have laboured feverishly for months to stockpile scripts that can be produced if a walkout begins.