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Late night TV hosts team up for a new podcast amid the writers strike

The late night heavyweights are putting their power into a new podcast, sharing this image on the Instagram page for the show.
Instagram
The late night heavyweights are putting their power into a new podcast, sharing this image on the Instagram page for the show.

The biggest names in late night have turned their private group chat into a Spotify podcast, Strike Force Five. All the proceeds will go to support their staff during the writers strike.

Who are they?

  • The hosts of the shows arguably most immediately affected by the strikes: Jimmy Kimmel, John Oliver, Seth Meyers, Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon. 

What's the big deal?

  • We're about to enter the fifth month since the Writers Guild of America went on strike May 2. Since then, all of the late night shows have gone on hiatus and the staff has been out of work. According to the first episode of the Strike Force Five podcast, all the proceeds from the show will go to support their staff during the strike.
  • Members of SAG-AFTRA, the actors guild, have also been on strike since July. Under the strike agreement, union members aren't allowed to promote Hollywood productions they're a part of – the bread and butter of many late night shows.
  • In the premiere episode, the hosts explain that when the strike was imminent, the five of them spoke regularly over Zoom to figure out ways to support their staff. This show was the result.
Writers walk the picket line on the second day of the television and movie writers' strike outside of Paramount Studios in Los Angeles on May 3.
Frederic J. Brown / AFP via Getty Images
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AFP via Getty Images
Writers walk the picket line on the second day of the television and movie writers strike outside Paramount Studios in Los Angeles on May 3.


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What are people saying?

  • "I instantly thought it was a great idea," said Bill Carter, author of two books on late night television, The Late Shift and The War for Late Night. "Those guys are sidelined, along with everybody else. And they also get along pretty well, which is kind of atypical for the history of late night." 
  • Back in the 2007-08 writers strike, David Letterman owned his own company, which allowed him to strike his own deal with the union and come back on air. The other shows, with the guild's blessing, came back before the strike ended and produced shows without their writers to help support the rest of the show staff.
  • Carter notes that he is a dues-paying member of the Writers Guild of America. Some NPR staff are also members of SAG-AFTRA, but operate under a different contract.
  • The first episode of Strike Force Five is performing well on the charts. As of this writing, it's currently sitting at the top of Apple podcastsand is number twoon Spotify's chart


So, what now?

  • The show is slated for 12 episodes.
  • If the premiere is any indication, we can safely assume there'll be more bits, banter and war stories from the hosts' time in the Hollywood trenches. 


Learn more:

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Andrew Limbong is a reporter for NPR's Arts Desk, where he does pieces on anything remotely related to arts or culture, from streamers looking for mental health on Twitch to Britney Spears' fight over her conservatorship. He's also covered the near collapse of the live music industry during the coronavirus pandemic. He's the host of NPR's Book of the Day podcast and a frequent host on Life Kit.