Having survived a public buggering following the announcement that he'd be the first late-night talkshow host to cross the WGA picket line and the subsequent publication of his hilariously misguided e-mail plea for gag-writing help from non-union friends and family, an embattled™ Carson Daly had to know that more sanity-fraying good times were in store for him once he returned to produce new episodes of Last Call without his writing staff. On Tuesday night, a team of striking writers infiltrated Daly's studio audience (an action not sanctioned by the Guild, we're told), briefly ruining his penetrating interrogation of Dancing with Stars also-ran Jerry Rice before security restored order to the Last Call world. A tipster forwarded this firsthand account of last night's shenanigans (there's also an amusing, if headache-inducing, cell-phone recording of the disruption, which we hope to share shortly):
Last night a group of striking writers, including a couple of recognizable names, infiltrated a taping of "Last Call With Carson Daly." The program was wrapping up the final two episodes of the season before going dark for the rest of the year.
During an interview with former NFL great Jerry Rice, a writer pretending to be an audience member heckled Daly, claiming he "needed a writer" to ask better questions. Production assistants and NBC security swooped upon the scribe and escorted him, without resistance, from the building.
A clearly disconcerted Daly asked whether Rice would be willing to start the interview over again, which he did.
After reintroducing Rice to the audience, who replicated their cheers, another incognito writer stood up and loudly declared: "I feel so bad for the striking writers! Can I please leave?" The scribe also pointed out Daly's use of cue cards, plaintively asking who was writing the show now.
NBC security, still expelling the first troublemaker, instantly scrambled back into the studio, then hurriedly ejected three more.
Daly, visibly rattled, appropriately enough had no witty impromptu comments to offer the perplexed audience. Rice was also addled, audibly asking: "What's going on?" A tense Daly responded with a nod, only offering: "I know what this is about."
After that, someone associated with the production took the stage and declared: "Anyone else interrupting the show will be prosecuted." This same person also advised "any other striking writers" in the crowd to "leave now."
Over twenty people scattered throughout the stands rose and dutifully shuffled out. The audience gasped at this. Daly visibly paled.
Ironically, one of this departing group had been awarded a prize moments earlier for being "such a great audience member." The prize was a gift certificate to El Pollo Loco.
Moments later, a traumatized Daly asked Rice whether he'd "mind starting the interview again."
As the production of Last Call shuts down for the holidays, perhaps Daly will finally get a couple of weeks of Yuletide peace; then again, following the unexpected raid on his studio, his vacation may be a tense and paranoid one, where he's too shell-shocked to open his front door and enjoy the singing of some Christmas carolers for fear that some renegade WGA operatives are concealed in their lilting group, ready to torment him with strike chants at his first vulnerable moment.