“Ben Affleck and the despicable Matt Damon contacted me and offered to pay our staff for two weeks a week each,” Kimmel, 55, revealed on the Wednesday, August 30, debut episode of the “Strike Force Five” podcast. “They wanted to pay out of their own pockets, our staff.”
Kimmel confirmed he “did say no” to the offer, explaining, “I felt that that was not their responsibility.”
Kimmel and his fellow late night hosts Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers and John Oliver launched their podcast to raise proceeds for their staffers as they strike. Colbert, 59, however, joked that it would have been nice to have had some monetary help from Damon, 52, and Affleck, 51.
“Couldn’t you just say yes and then give your money to us?” the Late Show with Stephen Colbert host quipped.
Fallon, 48, subsequently pointed out another celebrity who is helping to financially support their respective staffs: Ryan Reynolds. Kimmel added: “And we’re allowing it because we’re talking about Mint Mobile, which he’s also offered Mint Mobile service for free for a year to our staff.” (Reynolds’ phone company is one of the podcast’s sponsors.)
Late night shows have been off the air since the Writers Guild of America began its strike for fair pay in May. The organization has yet to reach an agreement for new contracts with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) — which represents major media companies such as Amazon, Apple, Disney, Discovery, NBCUniversal, Netflix, Paramount and Sony.
The American Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) followed suit and began striking in July, causing most Hollywood productions to shut down.
Days before the SAG-AFTRA strike began, Damon — who’s had a years-long “feud” with his BFF Kimmel — called the movement “unbelievably important” at the London premiere of Oppenheimer on July 12.
“26,000 bucks a year is what you have to make to get your health insurance, and there are a lot of people who[se] residual payments are what carry them across that threshold,” he told the Associated Press at the time. “If those residual payments dry up, so does their healthcare, and that’s absolutely unacceptable. We can’t have that, so we got to figure out something that is fair.”
A similar rule has been applied to actors. The union has granted interim waivers allowing stars to promote independent projects not associated with AMPTP. Because of this, celebs such as Adam Driver and Jessica Chastain are allowed to attend the 2023 Venice Film Festival.