TV’s late night hosts are joining forces to help support their own writing staffs and crews out of work during the WGA strike. Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Meyers, and John Oliver are together launching a new podcast series with Spotify that will bring the five comedians back to the airwaves for the first time since the strike began.
The new Spotify podcast series, “Strike Force Five,” will not, however, be an interview talk or variety show. Instead, the five late-night hosts will share their own perspectives on the ongoing Hollywood strikes in panel discussions. A press release announcing the series said it grew out of the five late-night hosts meeting once a week for their own private chats about the Hollywood strikes, and now they decided to record it.
The show will launch August 30 and will run for at least 12 episodes, each with one of the five talk show hosts rotating in as a moderator for a larger panel discussion. All proceeds received by the hosts from the show will be donated to the hosts’ respective shows, “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” and “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.”
Late-night shows were the first casualty of the writers strike, with each show immediately going dark on May 2 when the writers first called for a strike. That’s a long time off the air without any new monologues or celebrities playing on toy instruments with The Roots. Other shows like “Saturday Night Live” also went dark and were forced to cut their seasons short. “The Late Late Show” host James Corden retired from his show just before the writers strike began.
Former late-night host Conan O’Brien kept things going with his podcast during the strike, and Spotify also recently launched a deal with Trevor Noah for his own podcast focused on current events and other interviews, which will launch later this year.
As one late-night TV writer told us before the strike began, some of the challenges facing late-night WGA members are unique to those in the variety and comedy space, especially as it pertains to streaming. And WGA leadership recently called out the loopholes in the AMPTP’s latest offer that make it difficult for so-called “Appendix A” writers working in the variety streaming space.
“Strike Force Five” will be on Spotify’s Megaphone, with Spotify as the exclusive sales partner. The series will be supported by Mint Mobile and Diageo (Aviation American Gin, Bulleit Frontier Whiskey, Casamigos, and Ketel One Vodka), who were the first to come aboard to support the show as co-presenting sponsors.