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NBC's late night talk show staff get pay and benefits during writers strike

Members of the Writers Guild of America union picket outside Netflix headquarters Wednesday near Union Square in New York.
Stefan Jeremiah
Members of the Writers Guild of America union picket outside Netflix headquarters Wednesday near Union Square in New York.

NBC's late night talk show hosts Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers are covering a week of pay for their non-writing staff during the Writers Guild of America strike, which has disrupted production for many shows and movies as Hollywood's writers hit the picket lines this week.

Staff and crew for Fallon's The Tonight Show and Meyers' Late Night are getting three weeks of pay — with the nightly show hosts covering the third week themselves — and health care coverage through September, according to Sarah Kobos, a staff member at The Tonight Show, and a source close to the show.

Kobos told NPR that after the WGA strike was announced, there was a period of confusion and concern among non-writing staff over their livelihoods for the duration.

She took to Twitter and called out her boss in a tweet: "He wasn't even at the meeting this morning to tell us we won't get paid after this week. @jimmyfallon please support your staff."

A representative for Fallon didn't respond to a request for comment.

Kobos told NPR, "It was just nerve-wracking to not have much of a sense of anything and then to be told we might not get paid past Friday. We weren't able to be told if that means we would then be furloughed. But we were told, you know, if the strike's still going on into Monday, we could apply for unemployment."

They were also told their health insurance would last only through the month.

But on Wednesday, Kobos and other staff members received the good news. She shared again on Twitter that Fallon got NBC to cover wages for a bit longer.

Kobos called the news "a great relief." But as her experience shows, some serious uncertainty remains for many staff and crew working on Hollywood productions.

"It's very clear these are difficult and uncertain times," she said.

Kobos, who is a senior photo research coordinator, is part of a crucial cadre of staff members on the show who are directly impacted by their colleagues' picket lines.

It's unclear how long this strike could go on.

"It could end at any time, it could go on for a long time," Kobos said. Experts in the entertainment industry have previously told NPR that this year's strike could be a "big one." The last WGA strike in 2007 and 2008 lasted for 100 days.

So far, this strike by Hollywood writers is in its third day after contract negotiations with studios fell apart Monday.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers maintains that the studios have made generous offers to the union.

While Kobos waits for news on the strike, she says she is fully in support of the writers and called it a "crucial fight."

"When people fight to raise their standards in the workplace, it helps set the bar higher for everyone else as well," she said. "So a win for the writers here is a win for the rest of the industry and more broadly, the working class in general."

Fernando Alfonso III contributed to this story.

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Jaclyn Diaz
Jaclyn Diaz is a reporter on Newshub.