Conan, Leno going back to work

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When Carson Daly announced that he would be returning to work on Last Call With Carson Daly in direct defiance of the striking Writers Guild of America's wishes, many saw the man as a picket-line-crossing backstabber (and recently showed they meant it, too).

Now it looks as though Daly will have some company in Conan O'Brien and Jay Leno, though they probably won't be the target of any stone throwing.

Both NBC late-night talk-show hosts will be returning to work on January 2, announced the network today. The move wasn't a total shock, as many had predicted they would eventually return to work if the strike looked like it would endure for a long time.

The two hosts released statements today, explaining their decision to return to work. As expected, keeping the staff of their shows employed was the main reason.

"Now that the talks have broken down and there are no further negotiations scheduled, I feel it's my responsibility to get my 100 non-writing staff, which were laid off, back to work," said Leno. "We fully support our writers and I think they understand my decision."

"Unfortunately, now with the New Year upon us, I am left with a difficult decision," said O'Brien. "Either go back to work and keep my staff employed or stay dark and allow 80 people, many of whom have worked for me for 14 years, to lose their jobs. If my show were entirely scripted, I would have no choice. But the truth is that shows like mine are hybrids, with both written and non-written content. An unwritten version of Late Night, though not desirable, is possible--and no one has to be fired."

O'Brien and Leno were both among the talk-show hosts that had agreed to pay their shows' production staff's salaries during the strike. CBS' David Letterman also said he would pay his employees, which includes both shows from his Worldwide Pants production company, The Late Show With David Letterman and The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson. The generosity was costing some hosts as much as $200,000 a week.

With Leno and O'Brien making their decisions, other hosts, including Letterman, may be more inclined to follow suit.

For more on the writers strike, check out TV.com's Strike Source, featuring up-to-date statuses on shows, the latest information, and more.

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