When Jimmy Fallon was asked at the Met Gala Monday night for his thoughts on the Writers Guild of America strike, he said, “I wouldn’t have a show if it wasn’t for my writers, I support them all the way.” But according to one of his show’s staffers, that “support” did not extend to showing up on Tuesday when it was announced that NBC will stop paying them starting next week.
“He wasn’t even at the meeting this morning to tell us we won’t get paid after this week,” Sarah Kobos, who works as senior photo research coordinator for The Tonight Show, tweeted on Tuesday. She added, “@jimmyfallon please support your staff. Had fun bowling with ya last week, but a fun party won’t pay my rent.”
Kobos, who previously helped lead the fight for the Wirecutter union’s deal with The New York Times, clarified that she is not part of the WGA, and is therefore not a striking worker, but is among those whose jobs will be affected by the action.
“At a meeting Jimmy wasn’t even at, we are told NBC decided to stop paying us after this week and end our health insurance after this month if the strike is ongoing,” she wrote. “They won’t even tell us if we will technically be furloughed. Just active employees who aren’t paid.”
Kobos, who later spotted Tonight Show announcer Steve Higgins on the picket line in New York City on Tuesday afternoon, clarified to The Daily Beast that NBC higher-ups indicated that staff would retain health insurance “at least until” the end of May and could apply for unemployment starting Monday.
As Chicago Tribune critic Nina Metz tweeted in response, “Worth understanding the ways in which the studios are choosing to put livelihoods of other staff/crew in peril. Considering Fallon is the face of his show, seems pretty unseemly to not even be at this meeting.”
By contrast, Kobos added, “I’m told Seth Meyers was in their zoom production meeting and that he is going to try and take care of his staff and crew after NBC stops paying.” During the previous writers’ strike, which lasted from November 2007 until February 2008, late-night hosts including David Letterman, Jay Leno, and Conan O’Brien reportedly paid the salaries of their non-striking staff out of their own pockets.
The Daily Beast reached out to representatives for Fallon and The Tonight Show for comment but has not yet received a response.
Last week, before the strike went into effect and production halted across all of the major late-night shows—not including Greg Gutfeld’s “comedy” show on Fox News—Meyers used his platform to offer a message of support to the union.
“I’m good at one thing, which is writing, and I love writing so much. I am deeply proud of the fact that I get to be a professional writer,” Meyers said on his Friday “Corrections” segment. “I bring this up because, as of Monday at midnight, there might be a writers’ strike. And if a writers’ strike happens, that would shut down production on a great many shows.”
The Late Night host went on to say that a strike “would really be a miserable thing for people to have to go through, especially considering we’re on the heels of that awful pandemic that affected, obviously not just show business, but all of us.” He concluded, “I also feel very strongly that what the writers are asking for is not unreasonable. And, as a proud member of the Guild, I’m very grateful that there is an organization that looks out for the best interests of writers.”
As of Tuesday night, shows hosted by Fallon, Meyers, Stephen Colbert, and Jimmy Kimmel—as well as The Daily Show, which has been featuring a rotating lineup of guest hosts—will all begin airing reruns. HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver will follow suit this weekend.
Saturday Night Live was set to return on May 6 with an episode hosted by former cast member Pete Davidson, but that comedian’s frequent writing collaborator Dave Sirus confirmed it would be canceled, tweeting, “We had no choice but to strike so SNL is off.”