Drew Barrymore criticised for bringing talk show back amid strike

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Drew Barrymore is being criticised for her decision to bring back The Drew Barrymore Show for a fourth season in the midst of the ongoing Hollywood writers’ and actors’ strike, and faces a picket line this week outside its studio.

The daytime CBS talk show, which is hosted Barrymore (Charlie’s Angels, Never Been Kissed), will air on September 18 and Barrymore argues it will be in accordance with the writers’ guild and SAG-AFTRA strike terms.

The Drew Barrymore Show will resume this month despite the ongoing writers’ and actors’ strike.

“I own this choice,” Barrymore, 48, wrote in an Instagram post on Monday. “We are in compliance with not discussing or promoting film and television that is struck of any kind. We launched live in a global pandemic. Our show was built for sensitive times and has only functioned through what the real world is going through in real time.”

However, the decision has sparked criticism from members of the guild, who say the talk show is covered by the guild and must therefore abide by any strike terms until an agreement is reached with The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). The guild is preparing to picket outside the show’s studios in New York City at the beginning of the week.

“Any writing on The Drew Barrymore Show is in violation of WGA strike rules,” a guild spokesperson told this masthead.

The Drew Barrymore Show is a WGA-covered, struck show that is planning to return without its writers. The guild has, and will continue to, picket struck shows that are in production during the strike.”

However, CBS Media Ventures, which distributes the production, told The Hollywood Reporter that the show – which wrapped its third season before the strike began – will be produced without any written work covered by the guild. All actors who appear as guests will also have to abide by SAG-AFTRA strike rules, meaning they will not be able to discuss or promote any struck work.

The Drew Barrymore Show and CBS Media Ventures has been contacted for comment.

In May, Barrymore decided not to host the MTV Film and Television Awards to support striking writers who had recently joined the picket line.

“I made a choice to walk away from the MTV, film and television awards because I was the host and it had a direct conflict with what the strike was dealing with which was studios, streamers, film, and television,” Barrymore wrote on Instagram. “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.”

She defended her decision to bring the show back before the strike had ended, arguing that the production would offer work to those within the entertainment industry who have been out of work since the strike commenced.

“This is bigger than just me,” she wrote. “I want to be there to provide what writers do so well, which is a way to bring us together or help us make sense of the human experience. I hope for a resolve for everyone as soon as possible. We have navigated difficult times since we first came on air. And so I take a step forward to start season 4 once again with an astute humility.”

Several celebrities have publicly backed the writers’ guild, including Adam Conover – a comedian and writer for comedy website CollegeHumor – who described the decision as “incredibly disappointing”.

“Drew Barrymore’s show employs WGA writers who are currently on strike,” Conover wrote on X (formerly Twitter). “She is choosing to go back on the air without them, and forcing her guests to cross a picket line. Drew: This harms your writers and all union workers. Please reconsider.”

And actor Benjamin Siemon, known for his role as Brody on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, questioned how the show would operate amid such stringent strike terms.

“Who is she going to interview? No actors can promote anything. I like Drew Barrymore, but she’s making a mistake here. No one should do non-union writing for this show,” he wrote on X.

Several talk shows have been permitted to continue filming during the strike since many employ writers who are not affiliated with the guild, including Whoopi Goldberg’s The View and Tamron Hall. Barrymore’s show, alongside late-night talk shows like The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, are reportedly WGA signatories and therefore cannot include content produced by union members.

The Drew Barrymore Show, which debuted in 2020, has become known for both its star-studded guest line-ups and its unbreakable optimism. In each episode, Barrymore, alongside her co-host Ross Matthews, engages in candid conversation with celebrities such as Cameron Diaz, Jessica Alba and Justin Long.

“I am so excited to see what Drew has in store for season four,” said Wendy McMahon, president and CEO of CBS News and Stations and CBS Media Ventures, in a press release announcing the upcoming season.

“From launching during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic to successfully pivoting to a groundbreaking half-hour format, this show has demonstrated spectacular resilience and creative agility on its journey to becoming the fastest-growing show in daytime. We couldn’t have a better partner in Drew Barrymore and look forward to bringing our fans and station clients alike new episodes this fall.”

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