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Clarified: The WGA’s Leno Monologue Position

January 4, 2008 6:18 PM

Jeff Hermanson, the WGA West's assistant executive director, phoned to clarify the guild’s position moving forward regarding this whole Jay Leno monologue feud.

“Our position is that we have strike rules,” he says. “When there’s an allegation strike rules were broken by a member, the strike rules compliance committee investigates and makes a recommendation. If there’s a recommendation of disciplinary action … a trial committee is set up to hear evidence. It’s a formal process with all the elements of due processes that are required by law.”

Ah. So the WGA is launching an investigation on Leno’s alleged monologue violation. Got it.

“I’m not saying this process is going to go anywhere with regards to Jay Leno,” he continues, “but that we have a process and we have strike rules and they apply to everyone equally.”

Uh, okay. But if the WGA’s public stance has been that Leno broke the rules, shouldn’t that process happen?

“It would be premature to say complaints were made,” he says. “We know he did monologues. We don’t know he wrote the monologues. The first step would be to find out whether those monologues were written by him. If they were ad libbed, there is no violation.”

Whoa-whoa-whoa.

The accusation that Leno violated strike rules by doing a monologue has been by the WGA itself. And the biggest proponent of the theory that Leno wrote his own monologue has been Leno himself, who mentioned he composed it during his first night back. So aren’t those the two facts – that Leno wrote his monologue and the WGA says he violated their rules – the only two things that have been clear and agreed upon in this whole business?

“The first night he said that,” Hermanson says. “The next day [WGA president Patric Verrone] spoke with him. Leno said he wasn’t aware it was a violation, he didn’t think it was a violation. We clarified. We don’t carry this process out in the public eye. We act with discretion and try to give the person the benefit of the doubt. You’re always innocent until proven guilty. If somebody breaks a rule through a misunderstanding, that’s an extenuating circumstance and we take that into account. We’re not going to start making accusations and allegations against him publicly.”

But… but …

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