Jay Leno kept the jokes—his own jokes—rolling his second night back on the air, even as the striking WGA writers and NBC sparred over whether he was violating union rules by writing his monologues.
"The WGA agreement permits Jay Leno to write his own monologue for `The Tonight Show,’" NBC said in a statement. "The WGA is not permitted to implement rules that conflict with the terms of the collective bargaining agreement between the studios and the WGA."
The agreement between the WGA and AMPTP expired, but its terms remain in effect, Andrea Hartman, EVP/deputy general counsel for NBCU told The AP. “Material written by the person who delivers it on the air" is exempted from the contract. The exception applies to shows outside prime-time, which includes “The Tonight Show."
WGA argued that it’s on firm ground in the context of either its "strike rules" or the expired contract.
"Our position is that our strike rules don’t conflict here and, because he’s (Leno) always been employed as a writer" on the show, the contract exception doesn’t apply to him, guild spokesman Neal Sacharow was quoted as saying.
Sacharow declined comment on whether the guild would move against Leno. But he said any violation of strike rules would be brought before a union compliance committee for evaluation and a recommendation for action.
That could mean a fine or loss of union membership.