April 24, 2024

‘the Drew Barrymore Show’ and SAG/WGA Strike Controversy, Explained

  • “The Drew Barrymore Show” is returning to TV on September 18 amid the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes.
  • Barrymore’s since received backlash and apologized to writers in a now-deleted Instagram video.
  • In a statement to Insider, the WGA said, “Barrymore should not be on air while her writers are on strike.” 

When Deadline reported earlier this month “The Drew Barrymore Show” would return to TV for its fourth season on September 18 without its three unionized writers, the host immediately received backlash from the Writers Guild of America, which has been on strike since May.

The announcement also prompted other shows, including CBS’ “The Talk” and HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher,” to follow suit and announce their own returns to television without WGA writers.

As taping for “The Drew Barrymore Show” resumed this week in New York City, Barrymore has been in a public back-and-forth with the WGA and its supporters over the show’s controversial return to television.

In a statement provided to Insider on Friday, the WGA said, “Drew Barrymore should not be on the air while her writers are on strike fighting for a fair deal. In reality, shows like this cannot operate without writing, and that is struck work.”

Here’s everything to know about what’s going on with the return of “The Drew Barrymore Show.”

Drew Barrymore defended her daytime talk show’s return to TV on September 10 in a now-deleted Instagram post

Drew Barrymore blows a kiss from the set of "The Drew Barrymore Show."

Drew Barrymore on the set of “The Drew Barrymore Show.”

CBS Media Ventures



Barrymore shared her decision to return to her CBS syndicated program in a lengthy Instagram post, which she deleted Friday, telling fans that as they “launched live during a global pandemic,” their show was “built for sensitive times.”

Barrymore said the show is “in compliance” with the strike by not discussing and promoting struck work, per SAG-AFTRA strike rules.

“I am also making the choice to come back for the first time in this strike for our show, that may have my name on it but this is bigger than just me. I own this choice,” Barrymore wrote of her daytime talk show on Instagram on September 10.

Barrymore added: “We are in compliance with not discussing or promoting film and television that is struck of any kind. We launched live during 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. 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.”

WGA members and strike supporters accuse Barrymore of crossing the picket line

WGA members hold picket signs as they strike outside of NYC's CBS building where "The Drew Barrymore Show" is taped.

WGA members picket outside of “The Drew Barrymore Show” as audience members arrive for a taping of the show on September 12, 2023.

Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images



Comments on Barrymore’s post ask the host to “reconsider” returning to her show, calling her a “union buster,” and claiming she’s “not in compliance” with the strike.

“I’ve been on strike for 133 days as a writer and 60 days as an actor and it’s clear you’re determined to undermine the fight. This decision is actively working against those you’re claiming to support which means you’re either being willfully ignorant or you truly don’t care,” writer, actor, and producer Natasha Rothwell (“The White Lotus”) commented on Barrymore’s Instagram post.

WGA members have picketed the show since taping resumed on September 11 at the CBS Broadcast Center in New York City and plan to continue doing so next week.

Barrymore was subsequently dropped from hosting duties at an awards show

Following the announcement of the show’s return, the National Book Foundation dropped Barrymore as the host of its upcoming annual National Book Awards.

“In light of the announcement that ‘The Drew Barrymore Show‘ will resume production, the National Book Foundation has rescinded Ms. Barrymore’s invitation to host the 74th National Book Awards Ceremony,” the organization wrote on social media. “Our commitment is to ensure that the focus of the awards remains on celebrating writers and books, and we are grateful to Ms. Barrymore and her team for their understanding in this situation.”

Is ‘The Drew Barrymore Show’ scabbing?

When Barrymore announced the show’s return, the East coast branch of the Writer’s Guild of America posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, that any writing on the talk show “is in violation of WGA strike rules.

A spokesperson for CBS told EW, “‘The Drew Barrymore Show’ will not be performing any writing work covered by the WGA strike.”

Deadline reports the show’s fourth season will introduce a new segment called “Take Care Everywhere” in which Barrymore and founder of The Menopause Bootcamp Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz discuss “tough questions many are too embarrassed to ask” their doctors.

But isn’t Drew Barrymore a SAG member?

Drew Barrymore in a red-orange vest and flower print shirt for "The Drew Barrymore Show."

Drew Barrymore.

CBS Media Ventures



Yes.

But according to CNN, SAG-AFTRA said the actor and host is in compliance with her contract and that the production isn’t struck.

Vulture’s Josef Adalian described it best in layman’s terms. Barrymore’s not breaking SAG rules by showing up for hosting duties and fulfilling contractual obligations. If she doesn’t show up for work, she risks Paramount Global seeking legal action for not following through on her contract.

It puts the host in a bit of a Catch-22. Support the strike and risk legal action against yourself or abide by your contract and receive backlash for appearing to not back those on strike.

2 audience members supporting the strike were removed from ‘The Drew Barrymore Show’

Dominic Turiczek and Cassidy Carter told The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline they were “kicked out” of the show for supporting the strike.

Turiczek and Carter said they were handed WGA buttons by picketers as they were making their way into the show for a free taping and were asked to remove the buttons at security.

When Turiczek kept his pin on and was spotted by a security officer, he said they were asked to leave. As a result, the two joined the picket lines outside the show wearing WGA shirts. 

In a statement to THR, a spokesperson for “The Drew Barrymore Show” said, “It is our policy to welcome everyone to our show tapings. Due to heightened security concerns today, we regret that two audience members were not permitted to attend or were not allowed access. Drew was completely unaware of the incident and we are in the process of reaching out to the affected audience members to offer them new tickets.”

Turiczek and Carter told Deadline they didn’t see themselves returning to the show.

Has Drew Barrymore responded to the backlash?

Yes.

Barrymore posted a now-deleted emotional video to Instagram, apologizing to striking writers, and explaining her decision to return saying that she took full responsibility for her actions.

She did not address requests to reconsider resuming production.

“I know there’s just nothing I can do that will make this OK for those it is not OK with,” Barrymore said. “I fully accept that, I fully understand that. There are so many reasons why this is so complex, and I just want everyone to know my intentions have never been in a place to upset or hurt anyone. It’s not who I am.”

The host continued, calling this a low point: “I deeply apologize to writers. I deeply apologize to unions.”

Barrymore directly addressed the question “why am I doing this?” by reiterating that the show won’t break rules.

“I wanted to do this because, as I said, this is bigger than me, and there are other people’s jobs on the line,” Barrymore said. “And since launching live in a pandemic, I just wanted to make a show that was there for people in sensitive times.”

In her explanation, Barrymore equated the strike to the COVID-19 pandemic saying, “I weighed the scales and I thought, if we could go on during a global pandemic, and everything that the world has experienced through 2020, why would this sideline us?”

Reviewed by Insider, Barrymore’s video post was filled with comments, again, asking the host to “reconsider” the show’s return and to “meet the demands” of her writing team.

One commenter wrote, “We’re not asking for you to bring your show back in the middle of a strike…?, That’s not ‘being there’ for us, it’s turning your back on us.”

In response to the video message, the WGA told Insider the show “should not be on the air” while her writers strike.

Barrymore’s representative didn’t respond to Insider’s request for comment. 

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