Jimmy Kimmel says Ben Affleck and Matt Damon offered to pay his staff amid writers’ strike

Jimmy Kimmel says Ben Affleck and Matt Damon offered to pay his staff amid writers’ strike

Jimmy Kimmel has said that Ben Affleck and Matt Damon made a generous offer to pay his staff during the ongoing Hollywood writers’ strike.

The late-night host’s talk show, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, has been temporarily cancelled since May when the Writers Guild of America (WGA) took action after months-long negotiations with major studios broke down.

“Ben Affleck and the despicable Matt Damon contacted me and offered to pay our staff for two weeks,” the TV host said on the latest episode of his Strike Force Five podcast, jesting in reference to his long-running joke feud with Damon.

“A week each, they wanted to pay out of their own pockets our staff,” Kimmel, 55, added. “They’re good people.

“I did say no, but I felt that that was not their responsibility.”

Co-hosted with fellow late-night hosts Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers and John Oliver, the podcast was launched on Tuesday (29 August) with the sole purpose of discussing “the complexities behind the ongoing Hollywood strikes”.

Jimmy Kimmel, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon (Getty Images)
Jimmy Kimmel, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon (Getty Images)

It is said to run for at least 12 weeks, with the show’s proceeds being donated to the unemployed staff and crew of each host’s chat series.

“Could it be transferable?” Meyers jokingly responded to Kimmel, followed by Colbert who quipped: “Could you just say yes and then give your money to us?”

In July, the Screen Actors Guild – American of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) joined their fellow screenwriters’ in the fight for a fairer deal – a move which has effectively shut down Hollywood.

Both unions’ chief demands include increased wages, higher streaming residuals and improved working conditions.

The groups have since met with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), the association that represents the major film and TV studios; however, no contract has yet been agreed upon.

With no end in sight, SAG-AFTRA is prepared “for the long haul”. “Right now, we discussed what it would cost if it went for six months,” SAG president and star of Nineties sitcom The Nanny Fran Drescher said during a July press conference.

“The gravity of a commitment like this is not lost on any of us. It’s major. But we also see that we have no future and no livelihood unless we take this action, unfortunately.”

In response, the AMPTP says it presented a deal that offered “historic pay and residual increases, substantially higher caps on pension and health contributions, audition protections, shortened series option periods, and a groundbreaking AI proposal that protects actors’ digital likenesses for SAG-AFTRA members”.

“A strike is certainly not the outcome we hoped for as studios cannot operate without the performers that bring our TV shows and films to life,” the organisation added. “The Union has regrettably chosen a path that will lead to financial hardship for countless thousands of people who depend on the industry.”

So until studios reach an agreement with actors and writers, things “could get very, very unpleasant”, Succession star Brian Cox said during an interview on Sky News on 14 July.

“They’ll take us to the brink and we’ll probably have to go to the brink,” Cox said.