Non-writing staff members on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” will not be paid after this Friday and are being put on an “unpaid leave of absence” as the writers strike continues, a source close to NBC told HuffPost.
The source, who requested anonymity out of concern about potential reprisal, said the staff abruptly received emails Monday night for a call on Tuesday morning, where they found out the news.
“You know, it just kind of felt a little like a classic layoff — the night before, having an HR meeting put on your calendar,” the source said. “And so we hopped on the call. We weren’t really able to ask any questions. It was just, we were told that the language they’re using is that we are on ‘an unpaid leave of absence,’ is how they are framing it. They’re not using ‘layoff’ or ‘furlough,’ but we are not getting paid. This is our last paid week. Our final paychecks will come in next week.”
Another “Tonight Show” staffer, Sarah Kobos, also said Tuesday that “non-union staff who aren’t writers” were told they will be put on an “unpaid leave of absence.”
Kobos added: “Solidarity with WGA!”
Representatives for “The Tonight Show” did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Several sources told HuffPost that fellow late night hosts Seth Meyers, Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel are reportedly continuing to keep their staff paid. (Representatives for each of the three shows did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)
Since May 2, 11,500 TV and film writers in the Writers Guild of America East and West, including writers on the major late night shows, have been on strike over pay and working conditions. (HuffPost’s unionized staff are also members of the WGAE.) On Tuesday, the strike entered its third week, and writers are still waiting for studio executives to return to the bargaining table and reach a fair deal over key issues such as equitable pay in the streaming era, career development and protections regarding the use of artificial intelligence.
The source who spoke about conditions at “The Tonight Show” expressed solidarity with the striking writers. The strike has most immediately affected the late night shows, which halted production as soon as the strike began and have since been airing reruns.
Fallon faced criticism at the start of the strike on May 2, when the show’s staffers heard they were only going to get paid through the end of the week and receive health insurance through the end of May.
By the next day, Fallon reversed course, telling staffers at a morning meeting that they would continue to get paid, multiple sources said. NBC announced that the staff of Fallon’s and Meyers’ shows would be paid for the first three weeks of the strike, with the hosts personally covering pay for the third week. The staffers also would receive health care coverage through September.
During the strike, countless film and TV workers have been out of work until Hollywood studios and companies agree to reach a fair deal with the writers. As of last week, writers, other entertainment industry workers and union allies have raised nearly $2 million to help workers affected by the strike.