Letterman Set for Late-Night Return

NEW YORK Production company Worldwide Pants and the Writers Guild of America forged an agreement Friday that will put The Late Show With David Letterman and The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson back on the air with their writing staffs. Worldwide Pants owns both programs.

“Worldwide Pants has always been a writer-friendly company, and from the beginning we never had any real trouble with what the writers were asking,” Worldwide Pants CEO Rob Burnett told The Hollywood Reporter on Friday. “We were able to give them pretty much what they wanted.”

Just what they wanted is subject to interpretation. Burnett referred questions of the specifics of the deal to the WGA but said the production company was willing to give the WGA everything that it could.

“The bottom line is that as a signatory of the guild, Worldwide Pants is responsible for paying writers’ residuals on everything,” Burnett said. That included Internet rights, though CBS said in a separate statement that the network controls the Internet exploitation rights for both programs “and will comply with any eventual negotiated agreement between the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and the WGA.”

Hollywood writers have been on strike since early November.

The WGA said in a letter to its members that Worldwide Pants had agreed to the full slate including new-media proposals that the AMPTP had been unwilling to approve.

“This demonstrates the integrity and affordability of our proposals,” wrote WGA East president Michael Winship and WGA West president Patric Verrone. “There are no shortcuts in this deal.”

The WGA said Worldwide Pants agreed to the same deal the guild was willing to give to the AMPTP.

The WGA agreement comes at a time when the rest of the late-night pack returns to originals between Wednesday and Jan. 9. But only Late Show and Late Late Show will have writers.

The rest of the programs will have the hosts and guests and an undetermined format; the shows are playing it close to the vest, but it’s believed that the other shows whose writers are still out on strike are going to have difficulty getting A-list talent to appear.