While the WGA tiptoes around the issue of whether or not “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno can write his own monologue (something he admitted he did Wednesday night), it appears that Leno will perform his own gags again tonight.
An NBC spokesperson confirms that Leno is “taping his monologue right now.” The Peacock has also sent out a statement:
The WGA agreement permits Jay Leno to write his own monologue for “The Tonight Show.” The WGA is not permitted to implement rules that conflict with the terms of the collective bargaining agreement between the studios and the WGA.
Although the current contract has lapsed, NBC’s position is that the the terms of the previous agreement hold during a strike, and that the guild has no legal foundation to insist that Leno not perform material that he has written for himself. Moreover, the network says that he is allowed to do so under the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (or AFTRA) agreement pertaining to the latenight shows.
Insiders say Leno informed the guild in advance of his intent to perform a monologue without the help of other writers and that there were no specific objections. However, the guild had issued a reminder to the returning shows articulating its stance that guild members were not allowed to write for themselves. The situation is awkward given that Leno has been an outspoken supporter of the guild prior to his return.
— Brian Lowry and Michael Schneider