WGA tries on Pants deal



Worldwide Pants and the WGA will meet Friday to discuss an interim agreement that would get "Late Show With David Letterman" and "The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson" back on the air when its rivals return Jan. 2.

Worldwide Pants owns both shows, which air on CBS. It was the first company to jump at the chance to negotiate a separate deal with the WGA when it said it would turn to that strategy after talks with the AMPTP collapsed Dec. 7. But it took almost a week, and a very public appeal from Worldwide Pants through the media, to get the writers to sit down.

The guild's negotiating committee met Wednesday, approving the meeting with Worldwide Pants. Further details weren't immediately available.

Worldwide Pants president and CEO Rob Burnett has said that they would be willing to give the WGA whatever it is able to, though this is generally accepted to mean that new-media rights are not on the table. CBS is said to control the streaming and Internet clip rights.

"It is inconceivable to us that there is any producing entity more deserving than Worldwide Pants, which has been and continues to be a staunch supporter of the writers guild and its positions," Burnett said.

It's important for "Late Show" and "Late Late Show" to return to the air Jan. 2, which is the same night that NBC's "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" and "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" and ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live" are going back.

While a deal that Worldwide Pants is seeking would give it a competitive edge in that it would allow Letterman and Ferguson to return to the air with their writers -- the only show in late night to have them -- it would be equally disastrous in the ratings for the shows to be in reruns when its competitors are original, even if they are drastically different.