The return of The Drew Barrymore Show amid the Hollywood writers and actors strikes is causing controversy.
Drew Barrymore said on social media Sunday that her talk show will premiere its fourth season on Sept. 18. In her statement, she vowed to be in compliance with both the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and SAG-AFTRA striking rules by “not discussing or promoting film and television that is struck.”
Barrymore’s talk show is not covered under SAG-AFTRA’s struck TV/Theatrical/Streaming contract. (It is under SAG-AFTRA’s Network Television Code, a contract — covering morning news shows, talk shows, soap operas game shows — that’s good through June 2024.) However, the show is covered under the WGA’s film and TV contract, which is part of the strike. So Barrymore’s show is returning without its WGA writers. A CBS Media Ventures spokesperson said that the show “will not be performing any writing work” that will violate the strike rules.
WGA takes issue with its return. “The Drew Barrymore Show is a WGA covered, struck show that is planning to return without its writers,” it tweeted. “The Guild has, and will continue to, picket struck shows that are in production during the strike. Any writing on The Drew Barrymore Show is in violation of WGA strike rules.”
While some hoped Barrymore would change her mind at the eleventh hour, the talk show went ahead with taping Monday at CBS Broadcast Center in NYC. Among the picketers outside were the show’s three WGA writers, including Chelsea White who expressed her disappointment in the show returning.
Meanwhile, two audience members who wore WGA pins into the studio, given to them by picketers, claimed they were asked to leave before the show began because they were wearing the pins. Barrymore’s rep claimed she was unaware of the incident. The WGA plans to picket again on Tuesday.
“You are definitely going to be bringing us writers together… when we picket your show,” David Guggenheim, the WGA writer behind Designated Survivor replied in the comments of Barrymore’s post announcing the return of her show, garnering over 3,000 likes. Another commenter getting a lot of likes wrote, “Are you going to walk past your own writers on the picket line? Disappointing.”
The backlash is a turn for Barrymore, who was praised in May for backing out of hosting the MTV Movie & TV Awards in solidarity with writers. She wrote in her new statement that she pulled out in that case because there was “a direct conflict with what the strike was dealing with which was studios, streamers, film and television. It was also in the first week of the strike and so I did what I thought was the appropriate thing at the time to stand in solidarity with the writers.” Her decision to come back was made because, while her name is on the show, “this is bigger than just me,” she wrote, referring to other employees of the show. However, she also wrote, “I own this choice.”
But Barrymore’s not alone in going on the the show. The View, which also has a few WGA writers, has continued to air new shows throughout the strike. WGA has been picketing that show for months with plans to be back outside its NYC studio on Tuesday. Co-host Whoopi Goldberg has addressed the lack of writers on-air, noting that the mostly unscripted show will be less-polished with their writers out and nobody fulfilling their duties.
The Jennifer Hudson Show, The Talk and Sherri are all returning, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Hudson’s show returns on Sept. 18 as planned and it also has WGA writers, according to the guild website. The Talk, which has WGA writers, opted to go dark immediately after the strike started in May, but will be begin taping again. Sherri does not employ WGA writers.
The Kelly Clarkson Show doesn’t currently have a return date and the show’s publicist hasn’t responded to Yahoo’s inquiry as to when it will be back.
Meanwhile, Tamron, Live With Kelly and Mark and Sherri do not have WGA writers.
Barrymore’s Instagram statement outlining her reasoning for bringing back the show didn’t necessary help.