The first strike by Hollywood writers in nearly 20 years got under way Monday with noisy pickets on both coasts — a walkout that will disrupt everything from late-night talk shows to soap operas.
Jay Leno made a midmorning stop at NBC studios in Burbank and visited with strikers after the network said his late-night show would immediately go into reruns.
CBS, meanwhile, said “The Late Show with David Letterman” will also offer repeats all week.
KTLA-TV reported that fans of the “Ellen” talk show were told at the NBC lot that there would be no taping on Monday.
Comedy Central previously said “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and “The Colbert Report” would likely go into repeats as well.
The strike will not immediately impact production of movies or prime-time TV programs. Most studios have stockpiled dozens of movie scripts, and TV shows have enough scripts or completed shows in hand to last until early next year.
The strike began after daylong talks Sunday failed to produce an agreement on payment to writers from shows offered on he Internet.
At the CBS lot in Studio City, about 40 people hoisted signs and applauded when picketing began.
Robert Port, a writer for the TV show “Numb3rs,” said he was as ready as possible for what could be a long walkout.
“We live in Los Angeles, your bank account can never really be ready for this,” he said.
Across town at the Paramount Pictures lot on Melrose Avenue, about 50 strikers dressed in jeans, athletic shoes and red strike T-shirts carried signs reading, “Writers Guild of America on Strike.”
Drivers honked their horns as they passed the studio’s landmark gate.
The first noisy strikers appeared outside the “Today” show set at Rockefeller Center in New York, where NBC is headquartered. The show is not directly affected by the strike because news writers are part of a different union.
(MSNBC.com is a Microsoft-NBC Universal joint venture.)
A giant, inflated rat was displayed, as about 40 people shouted, “No contract, no shows!”
“They claim that the new media is still too new to structure a model for compensation,” said Jose Arroyo, a writer for “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.”
“We say give us a percentage so if they make money, we make money,” Arroyo said.
Diana Son, a writer for “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” said she has three children and getting residuals was the only way she could take time off after giving birth.
“It’s an extremely volatile industry,” Son said. “There’s no job security. Residuals are an important part of our income. There’s no cushion.”
Millie Katzen of Memphis who watched the New York pickets from across the street, said she was “disgusted. ... I really think they should try harder to negotiate.”
Katzen said she sells advertising for radio stations. “We’ve already had cancellations of sweeps weeks ads” by the networks.
The strike is the first walkout by writers since 1988. That work stoppage lasted 22 weeks and cost the industry more than $500 million.
Talks began in July and continued after the contract expired Wednesday
Negotiators met Sunday for nearly 11 hours before East Coast members of the writers union announced on their Web site that the strike had begun for their 4,000 members.
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers said writers were not willing to compromise on major issues.
Writers said they withdrew a proposal to increase their share of revenue from the sale of DVDs that had been a stumbling block for producers.
They also said proposals by producers in the area of Internet reuse of TV episodes and films were unacceptable.
In Los Angeles, writers planned to picket 14 studio locations in four-hour shifts from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day until a new deal is reached.
Security was stepped up at the Bob Hope Drive gate, across from Johnny Carson Park, in Burbank. Guards were on duty and Burbank police squad cars cruised past the site.
One key factor that could determine the damage caused by the strike is whether members of a powerful Hollywood Teamsters local honor the picket lines.
Local 399, which represents truck drivers, casting directors and location managers, had told its members that as a union, it has a legal obligation to honor its contracts with producers.
But the clause does not apply to individuals, who are protected by federal law from employer retribution if they decide to honor picket lines, the local said.
The battle has broad implications for the way Hollywood does business, since whatever deal is struck by writers will likely be used as a template for talks with actors and directors, whose contracts expire next June.
“We’ll get what they get,” Screen Actors Guild president Alan Rosenberg told The Associated Press.