John Oliver became the first late night host to officially return on Sunday night, kicking off a new season of “Last Week Tonight” with his writers fully onboard. Naturally, he addressed the 146-day strike pretty quickly, applauding the guild for getting their deal, and calling out the studios for how long it took to offer it.
“While I’m happy they eventually got a fair deal and immensely proud of what our union accomplished, but I’m also furious that it took the studios 148 days to achieve a deal that they could have offered on day f—ing one,” Oliver said.
Though hiatus time was built into most of the late night shows, they were still off for several months, meaning the hosts couldn’t cover the biggest stories happening. To rectify that, Oliver effectively did a speed run of the news, particularly piling onto Rep. Lauren Boebert’s ouster from “Beetlejuice” last month, for being a loud, graphic disturbance.
Oliver then explained that, yes, he would “have loved to have covered all of these stories back when they originally happened,” but fully supported his writers, and reassured his audience that the strike was necessary.
“It was an immensely difficult time, not just for them, but for everyone else working on this show and others who could no longer do their jobs,” he said. “To be clear, this strike happened for good reason. Our industry has seen its workers severely squeezed in recent years. You might have seen stories about writers and actors, whose work you recognize, routinely not making enough to qualify for health insurance or afford basic needs so the writers guild went on strike and thankfully won.”
The “Last Week Tonight” host added that he hopes the WGA’s strike can serve as inspiration for unions across the country, and that its deal can be a blueprint for SAG-AFTRA, which resumes negotiations on Monday.
“I hope that SAG-AFTRA and IATSE, which represents crews, will be able to take what the writers achieved and leverage it to win fair contracts too, because the truth is it takes many people working really hard to make film and TV, all of whom deserve a piece of the piece,” he said.
“For the actors guild, in particular, they can not come back to work soon enough, especially as we’ve all now seen what happens when non-professionals are trusted with the written word.”