Writers Guild Makes Deal With David Letterman

David Letterman's production company has struck an independent deal with the Writers Guild of America that will allow "Late Show With David Letterman" and its sister program, "The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson," to return to the air Wednesday, Jan. 2 with its writing staffs, according to a person familiar with the agreement.

Worldwide Pants, which produces and owns both programs, is the first company to strike a deal with the guild in the nearly 8-week-old strike. The terms of the agreement were not immediately known.

The accord means that when Letterman and Ferguson resume production next week, the CBS hosts will be the only late-night comedians back on the air with their writers. NBC's Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien, ABC's Jimmy Kimmel and Comedy Central's Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert said earlier this month that they would also return with new shows in January, but without their writing staffs. (Because their programs are owned by their respective networks, those hosts could not make the kind of separate arrangement with the union that Worldwide Pants did.)

So while Letterman is reeling off his famous Top 10 List, Leno -- who is prohibited from writing under strike rules -- will have to rely on improv, musical guests and celebrity interviews.

The Worldwide Pants deal is a small bright spot for the guild, which is engaged in a bitter standoff with the studios. While the agreement covers only a small fraction of the 10,500 striking writers, it allows the union to make the case that it is willing to work with reasonable producers.

Still, even with Worldwide Pants offering to give the union the terms it sought, it took nearly two weeks for an agreement to be reached between the two sides.