Comedy Central confirmed Thursday that its late night talk shows The Jon Stewart Show and The Colbert Report will return to the air on January 7th, two months after going dark on the day the Writers Guild of America strike against the major studios and nets began November 5th.
Variety reports that The Jon Stewart Show and The Colbert Report will resume production a week after the scheduled return of NBC's Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien, CBS' David Letterman and Craig Ferguson and ABC's Jimmy Kimmel. Their shows will also proceed without writers, unless Letterman's Worldwide Pants production company succeeds in securing an interim agreement with the guild to allow writers for his and Ferguson's show to return to work.
But the prospect of working without writers is a much trickier proposition for The Jon Stewart Show and The Colbert Report -- both Stewart and Colbert are WGA members -- than it is for the other latenighters, because their formats are so script- and monologue-driven. Colbert plays a Bill O'Reilly-esque character who rails against headlines and topical issues ("Truthiness" is the character's coinage for handling factual inconsistencies in his positions) in satirical bits that are generally tightly scripted.
"We would like to return to work with our writers. If we cannot, we would like to express our ambivalence, but without our writers we are unable to express something as nuanced as ambivalence," Stewart and Colbert said in a joint statement issued Thursday afternoon.