Leno joins ranks of salary-paying hosts


As the Writers Guild of America strike trudges on, there's a new victim really feeling the pinch of the work stoppage in TV land: the bank accounts of late-night talk-show hosts.

In an act of altruism and loyalty, several emcees of the nocturnal sit-down sessions have offered to pay the salaries of their show's non-writing employees while the shows go dark. The latest to open up his wallet is Jay Leno, host of NBC's Tonight Show With Jay Leno.

Leno has agreed to pay the salaries of approximately 100 Tonight Show employees at least through this week, according to Variety. NBC let go of most of the show's employees (as well as those that worked on Late Night With Conan O'Brien) on Friday, though the network had continued to pay them up to that point.

The move follows the steps first taken by David Letterman, who is paying the salaries of non-writing employees at Late Show with David Letterman and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, both of which are produced by Letterman's Worldwide Pants production company. Last week, prior to his staff's firing, Conan O'Brien ensured that he would pay his employees' salaries once NBC cut the cord. The Daily Show's Jon Stewart was rumored to be doing the same, but a publicist later denied the fact.

Carson Daly took another route to make sure the staff of Last Call With Carson Daly get paid; he crossed the picket line and resumed production of his show, much to the chagrin of the WGA.

While Letterman and O'Brien clearly took matters into their own hands to dispense some holiday cheer, Variety points out that it may not have just been good will that spurred Leno to change his mind and reach into his pockets. Citing inside sources, the trade says that Leno made the decision only after employees expressed disappointment that Leno wasn't following the example set by O'Brien and Letterman.

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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