WGA-Pants talks zipped; no deal yet

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Last week's negotiations between Worldwide Pants and the WGA wrapped without an agreement — and without much details.

Both sides said Friday that the talks would resume sometime this week, though it isn't clear whether that would happen before Christmas Eve or after Christmas. It wasn't likely to happen during the weekend, and the talks might not have had the entire WGA negotiating committee in place.

Meanwhile, CBS' "Late Show With David Letterman" and "The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson" remain the only two late-night talkers without firm plans to return to the air. But there were indications that, even without an interim agreement brokered between the guild and Worldwide Pants, the shows might return in January.

"Apprentice" star Donald Trump is booked for the Jan. 2 "Late Show," though it wasn't clear Friday whether that show will go on. Other guests have been scheduled for the talkers but have been canceled as the decision to remain off the air has been made.

The difference would be whether both shows would have writers. Both sides released only terse statements about the negotiations for an interim agreement independent of the AMPTP that Worldwide Pants hopes will return "Late Show" and "Late Late Show" back to the air with writers. Its late-night competitors are all coming back in early January, though without writers.

"We had a substantive discussion today with the WGA and look forward to continuing these talks next week," Worldwide Pants president and CEO Rob Burnett said Friday. Burnett had flown to Los Angeles to meet with the WGA negotiating committee.

"A lively exchange of information took place," the WGA said in a terse statement. "The WGAW and WGAE will not comment further."

Worldwide Pants has made no secret of the fact that it hopes the guild will allow an interim agreement that would allow both its shows to return without an overarching agreement. That presumably also would be agreeable to the guild, which said in early December that it would seek separate agreements with the companies affected by the strike. But it was taking longer to get to the negotiation process, which was helped by Worldwide Pants' public appeals.

That became even stronger when NBC announced that "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" and "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" would return to the air Jan. 2. ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live" also will return that date, and Comedy Central's "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" and "The Colbert Report" will return Jan. 7.

Universal Records South said Friday that two of its artists were scheduled to appear on late-night talk shows in early January. Shooter Jennings is scheduled to perform on "Late Show" on Jan. 2, though that appearance could be canceled if the show doesn't resume production. Joe Nichols will appear on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" on Jan. 3.
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