Last Week Tonight With John Oliver Returns After Five-Month Hiatus
“Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” made a triumphant return to the airwaves on Sunday, marking the end of a five-month hiatus following the conclusion of the Hollywood writers’ strike. As Oliver took the stage, he wasted no time delving into a whirlwind of news and humor, touching on a wide range of topics, from U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert to the fictional “Barbenheimer.” However, he also took a moment to reflect on the impact and significance of the writers’ strike that had kept the show off the air for so long.
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Acknowledging the Writers’ Struggle
During his return episode, John Oliver expressed his deep appreciation for the audience’s patience and support during the extended hiatus. He shared, “I wish so much I could have told you these jokes at the time, but I couldn’t because our writers, the people who wrote those jokes, were forced to strike for a fair contract for the last five months.” Oliver’s heartfelt acknowledgment shed light on the challenging circumstances faced not only by the writers but also by everyone involved in the production of the show.
The strike, Oliver emphasized, was not a matter of frivolity but a principled stand for a just and equitable contract. He stated, “And it was an immensely difficult time, not just for them but for everyone else working on this show and many others who could no longer do their jobs. And to be clear, this strike happened for good reasons. Our industry has seen its work severely squeezed in recent years. You’ve probably seen stories about writers and actors whose work you may even recognize, routinely not making enough to qualify for health insurance or afford basic needs.”
Praising the ‘Sacrifices’ and Criticizing the Studios
While praising the tenacity and “sacrifices” made by those involved in negotiating the Writers Guild of America’s (WGA) new deal with Hollywood’s studios, Oliver did not mince words when it came to the studios themselves. He expressed his frustration, saying, “While I’m happy that [the WGA] eventually got a fair deal and immensely proud of what our union accomplished, I’m also furious that it took the studios 148 days to achieve a deal that they could have offered on day one.” His pointed critique highlighted the need for swift and fair negotiations in the entertainment industry.
A Call for Solidarity
In closing, John Oliver offered a message of hope and unity. He encouraged not only those in the entertainment industry but also workers across various sectors, from auto workers to Starbucks baristas to healthcare providers, to find strength in collective action. He emphasized the importance of standing together and advocating for fair treatment and compensation, whether through unions or other means.
Oliver concluded by expressing his optimism that other industry unions, such as the Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), could build upon the achievements of the writers’ strike to secure their own new contracts with the studios. He underlined the significance of ensuring that all individuals involved in the creative process receive their fair share, particularly highlighting the urgency for actors to return to work.
Late-Night TV Returns Post-Strike
John Oliver is the latest late-night host to make his return since the Hollywood writers’ strike came to a close. Bill Maher resumed “Real Time” on Friday, September 29, while shows like “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” are set to return on Monday night. As late-night television reawakens, the impact and lessons of the writers’ strike continue to resonate throughout the industry, serving as a reminder of the importance of solidarity and fair compensation for all who contribute to the world of entertainment.