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Last Updated: Saturday, 29 December 2007, 12:21 GMT
Letterman to return with writers
David Letterman
Letterman has presented The Late Show since 1993
US talk show host David Letterman has reached a deal with striking writers that will allow his show to return with a full writing staff.

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) said the agreement meant its members would be paid for work distributed online - a major sticking point in their dispute.

Letterman said he was "happy to be going back to work" on 3 January after eight weeks off air.

Many of his rivals also return next week - without their writing teams.

The interim agreement between the Letterman's Worldwide Pants production company and the WGA also allows the return of spin-off programme The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.

"This is not a solution to the strike, which unfortunately continues to disrupt the lives of thousands," said Letterman.

"But I hope it will be seen as a step in the right direction."

Disarray

Letterman's deal gives his show a distinct advantage over the likes of Conan O'Brien, Jay Leno and Jimmy Kimmel, who face the prospect of presenting an hour-long nightly television show without scribes to pen their monologues, sketches and other written material.

Presenters such as Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert will not even be allowed to write their own scripts, as they are members of the WGA.

There is also a question over whether celebrity guests will be prepared to cross picket lines to appear on the shows.

The strike, which began on 5 November, was called because of a dispute over the fees writers get paid when their work is released on DVD or the internet.

It has thrown the US television industry into disarray, postponed production on several major films and is threatening to spoil Hollywood's annual awards season.

Talks between the two sides collapsed on 7 December, with no more scheduled.

The WGA has since said it would pursue separate talks with smaller, independent production companies.



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