TV star becomes first late-night host to defy strike by Hollywood screenwriters

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The Independent US

Carson Daly has become the latest television host in the United States to risk the wrath of his Hollywood peers after announcing plans to resume taping of his late-night music and chat show in defiance of the three-week-old screen and television writers' strike.

Daly, who returned to his Burbank studio yesterday, is the first late-night host to break ranks with the writers, whose stoppage began on 5 November. Other shows in the late-night hours, including The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and The Late Show with David Letterman, are airing repeats.

The two sides in the dispute, the Writers Guild of America and the major Hollywood studios, resumed negotiations in Los Angeles this week, but sources indicated that there was little sign of progress. The guild is seeking additional compensation for writers for content released on DVDs and the internet.

Unlike most of his late-night peers, including Leno and Letterman, Daly is not a member of the guild. However, his decision to resume production coupled with a leaked email in which he calls on non-guild writers to furnish him with material drew a strong rebuke from the guild.

"We're especially appalled at Mr Daly's call for non-guild writers to provide him with jokes. We hope he'll change his mind and follow the lead of the other late-night hosts," the union said in a statement.

Daly's return will not do much for viewers deprived of late-night laughs. His show, Last Call with Carson Daly on the NBC network, lasts only 30 minutes and is not aired until 1.35 am. He reportedly made his decision after NBC threatened to lay off non-writing staff on his show.

While alone among the late-night roster of entertainers, Daly is not the first host in all of television to snub the strikers. It took Ellen DeGeneris, who has a popular syndicated day-time show, just one day after the strike began to jump the picket lines and resume production. She was instantly branded a scab by angry union members.

On the other coast in New York, talks were also under way yesterday between theatre owners and stagehands in a separate strike on Broadway that has closed all but a handful of productions.

Thirteen hours of talks on Tuesday failed to produce a breakthrough, but there was cautious optimism that negotiators were inching towards a settlement. Bruce Cohen, a spokesman for the stagehands' union Local One, described the failure to make progress as a "rain delay". He added: "The rainy weather should clear up when talks resume." A deal would bring relief to tourists unable to see shows in the busy pre-Christmas period and to producers who have been losing millions for the more than two weeks that the theatres have been dark.

Yesterday was declared a global solidarity day with the Hollywood writers, with demonstrations supporting them in cities as far apart as London, Sydney, Berlin and Amsterdam.

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