US late-night TV hosts unite for Spotify podcast during Hollywood writers’ strike

Writers Guild of America members and supporters on a picket line outside Paramount Studios in the Hollywood neighbourhood of Los Angeles, California, US, on 3 May 2023.

Out of work and with their staff writers on the picket lines, five late-night TV hosts are using their new-found free time to create a podcast.

Strike Force Five will feature Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, John Oliver and Seth Meyers discussing the work stoppages for at least 12 episodes. Spotify Technology is producing the programme, but it premieres on Wednesday for free on all podcast platforms.

Spotify has lined up sponsors, including Mint Mobile and liquor giant Diageo. All compensation received by the hosts will go to the out-of-work writers of respective shows.

“When the WGA [Writers Guild of America] strike started in May of this year, this elite group of suddenly unemployed talk show hosts gathered via the miracle of Zoom,” according to a press release announcing the podcast. “Their idea was to meet every week to discuss the serious issues a work stoppage creates. What happened instead was a series of hilarious and compelling conversations.”

Late-night programming went on hiatus after screenwriters began striking on May 2 following failed contract negotiations with the film and TV studios that employ them. The Writers Guild of America has been seeking protections against artificial intelligence, minimum staffing requirements on shows and additional compensation for hit streaming programmes. Though union negotiators met recently with the studios, an agreement has yet to be reached.


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