Ed Driscoll

Paint It Black

Variety explores the prospect of “A dark latenight ahead” as “Writers strike reality sets in“:

While the networks have been repeating the mantra that “screens will not go black,” it won’t take long for TV viewers to see the impact of a Writers Guild of America strike.

The canaries in TV’s creative coal mine are latenight hosts such as David Letterman and Jay Leno, whose monologues and sketches are dependent on union writers. If history is any guide, both shows will almost instantly go dark, as would “Saturday Night Live.” Comedy Central’s latenight stalwarts “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” and “The Colbert Report” would also likely switch to repeats in the immediate aftermath of a strike.

“Boom — our show just shuts down,” said “SNL” vet Amy Poehler. “It’s just done. There is no backlog of scripts.” (For more on latenight and the strike, log on to Variety.com)

Primetime comedy and drama series will feel the pinch immediately, though the on-air effect will be delayed at least a few weeks for most shows as they air completed segs. Cruelest blows will hit the frosh crop of shows that are just starting to get a toehold with viewers, including ABC’s “Private Practice,” “Pushing Daisies” and “Samantha Who” and CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory.”

The repercussions of scribes going out will surely be felt at Hollywood’s major talent agencies. It’s widely expected that a prolonged strike would result in serious layoffs; some agencies have already sketched out strike contingency plans involving salary deferments and other cost-cutting moves.

Fight it out hammer and tongs fellas; take as long as you need. You’ll only be speeding up the migration to here.