NEW YORK Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien's late-night shows will return to the air with fresh episodes on January 2 after two months of repeats due to the writers' strike, the network said Monday.
The "Tonight" show and "Late Night" will return without writers supplying jokes. NBC said the decision was similar to 1988, when Johnny Carson brought back the "Tonight" show two months into a writers' strike.
A similar return with writers appears in the works for David Letterman. The union representing striking writers said over the weekend that it was willing to negotiate deals with individual production companies, including Letterman's Worldwide Pants.
The strike left the nation bereft of fresh late-night laughs for two months as the presidential race heated up. Jon Stewart's "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central has also been shut down during the strike.
"Both Jay and Conan have supported their writers during the first two months of this WGA (Writers Guild of America) strike and will continue to support them," said Rick Ludwin, executive vice president, late night and primetime series for NBC. "However, there are hundreds of people who will be able to return to work as a result of Jay's and Conan's decision."
It's not immediately clear how each show will change in coming back without writers. The late-night programs have become less like talk shows and more like comedy shows in recent years, requiring more prepared material.