Several late-night talk-show hosts have decided that it isn't fair for their staff members to feel the financial brunt of their shows going dark. In taking matters into their hands, David Letterman, Jay Leno, and Conan O'Brien have all started paying the salaries of the nonwriting employees that have seen their paychecks disappear as a result of the strike.
In all fairness, it's only right that word gets out that another host has been doing the same thing all along. However, no one knew because it wasn't really brought to the public's attention--perhaps intentionally.
LA Weekly's Hollywood insider Nikki Finke reported this week that Jimmy Kimmel, host of Jimmy Kimmel Live, has been paying some of the low-paid employees of his show since the beginning of the strike without telling the media and making a PR fuss (though he's getting good PR now). Finke (who takes a very pro-Kimmel tone) says that the higher-paid employees were still getting checks from ABC until recently.
Now, with ABC allegedly suspending "nearly everyone" working on the show earlier this week, Kimmel has stepped it up and also taken on paying the salaries of a "vast majority" of pink-slipped employees. It is believed that Kimmel makes the least of the four major talk-show hosts (seven figures versus eight figures), and his extended generosity could take a sizable chunk out of his (now suspended) salary.
But just how much are these acts of holiday cheer costing these talk-show hosts? The New York Post estimates that David Letterman (yearly salary $31.5 million) is shelling out $200,000 per week, Jay Leno ($28.5 million) is also forking out $200,000 per week, and Conan O'Brien ($10 million) is handing out $150,000 per week. Kimmel's stats were not included in the report.
It's unclear how long all four hosts will continue to pay the salaries of their staff.
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.