Writers Strike 1988: Carson & Letterman Return
In 1988 it took David Letterman one month longer to strike a special deal with the WGA and return to air than it did in 2008. Johnny Carson whose "Tonight" show had also reached an agreement with the Guild however crossed the picket lines weeks before as the legendary host began to write his own monologues.
In late May 1988, it was reported that the Writers Guild of America had approved a special contract with over 70 independent producers (non-members of the AMPTP that the WGA was battling at the bargaining table).
The breakthrough allowed companies that produced NBC's "Tonight Show" as well as hit sitcoms "The Cosby Show" and "ALF" to go back into production as their writers were allowed to work for those companies.
Unlike Johnny Carson, David Letterman vowed not to go back on air without his writers and waited for the approval of the contract. His "Late Show," then broadcast on NBC after Carson's "Tonight Show," went back on air in early June.