Nonwriting Tonight Show Staff Laid Off


Friday was the last day for most of the 120 staffers on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” who left with an early Christmas bonus check and no guarantee of a job when the strike ended, reports Variety.

“Do we have a job when the strike ends? That’s what everyone keeps asking,” one former staffer told the trade. “They’ve guaranteed no one a job. They just keep saying, ‘The letter explains it.”

That letter is a notice from NBC’s human resources department that says, “If your services are needed, we will contact you.”

Variety adds that while some higher-level executives received severance packages, other staffers received only Leno’s traditional bonus of $100 times the number of years the staffer has been on the show.

“We haven’t heard from [Jay Leno] since the second or third day of the strike,” the former staffer said. “He called on speakerphone while we were in our daily meeting and said, ‘Don’t look for other jobs , no one’s going to lose their house, we’ll get though this.’ Two weeks ago, we got the heads up that we had two more weeks (of pay) and that’s it. Everyone wondered, ‘Is Jay going to come through?’ And nothing happened. Conan makes less and he said, ‘I’m going to pay for my people.’ ”

Still on the payroll are the exec producers and a skeleton crew to answer phones. Leno was not on hand for the layoffs. Instead, Leno’s assistant notified the staff yesterday that they would get their Christmas bonus early.