Late Night TV Hosts to Make United Return?

| Fri Dec. 14, 2007 3:59 PM EST

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And yes, that's really David Letterman up there on the left. Jeez. "Late Night With Beardy McSantapants?" Wow. Anyway, Variety is reporting that some or all of the big network late night hosts could be back on the air in early January, perhaps at the same time. Letterman, Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien and Craig Ferguson have all stayed off the air since the beginning of the ongoing Writers Guild strike in support of their joke-penners, even paying the staffs out of their own pockets. But with the shows in reruns, ratings are taking a nose-dive, and the hosts are getting antsy:

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Nothing's been officially decided, and nobody will comment. But … people familiar with the situation said several hosts are nearing the conclusion that it's time to return. … So who will come back first? There's some talk that the Big Four hosts may all return around the same time. While informal discussions between the NBC and CBS camps have continued via backchannels throughout the strike absolutely nothing like that has been agreed upon. Latenight insiders, however, believe Leno and O'Brien are most likely to return in early January, no matter what Letterman decides. NBC has to be concerned about the plunging ratings for both shows, which in recent weeks have lost nearly half their audience.

Not included in the "Big Four" is Carson Daly, whose terrible late night show returned to the air this week (maybe because no real writers are actually involved?) and was subjected to a (non-Guild-sanctioned) protest by writers who disrupted his studio audience. Ellen Degeneres has also faced criticism for only taking off a single day in support of the strike. However, writers for both Letterman and O'Brien have said they'd support their bosses' decision to return.

I'm totally down with the strike, but what I wanna know is: when can I have my "Daily Show" and "Colbert Report" back? The cutout picture of Stephen Colbert I've taped to my TV is starting to get a little yellow, and I need my Truthiness!!

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