Drew Barrymore has confirmed that her eponymous talk show, “The Drew Barrymore Show,” will resume production and broadcasting despite ongoing strikes from the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA). The show, which falls under WGA’s film and TV contract, began its live audience tapings on September 11, even as picketers stood outside the studio.
The Writer’s Dilemma
The writers for “The Drew Barrymore Show” have been on strike since May, following the expiration of the WGA contract. According to a CBS Media Ventures spokesperson, the show will continue to air without performing “any writing work covered by the WGA strike.” This effectively means that Barrymore herself, an outside writer, or a producer will need to create the show’s content, like opening monologues, interview questions, and jokes.
Audience Members Ejected for WGA Support
Two audience members attending a taping on Monday revealed that they were asked to leave the studio for wearing WGA pins. These pins were handed to them by striking WGA members picketing outside the studio. Although a spokesperson for “The Drew Barrymore Show” confirmed that Barrymore was “completely unaware of the incident,” they stated that they were offering new tickets to the affected audience members.
Drew Barrymore’s decision has raised eyebrows in the entertainment community, especially because she stepped down from hosting the MTV Movie & TV Awards in May in solidarity with the WGA strike. The National Book Foundation also withdrew its invitation to Barrymore to host this year’s National Book Awards in light of her talk show resuming production.
The SAG-AFTRA Loophole
Barrymore’s show appears to sidestep the SAG-AFTRA strike by exploiting a nuance in the union’s contract. While SAG’s Television/Theatrical/Streaming contracts are currently under strike, its Network Television Code (Netcode) contract—which covers talk shows—is not. This allows Barrymore and her guests to continue without technically defying the SAG strike, so long as they avoid discussions that fall under the expired SAG contracts.
Union Solidarity Questioned
Chelsea White, one of the WGA writers for “The Drew Barrymore Show,” expressed disappointment at the show’s resumption, stating that it sends a message that “union writers are not valuable.” This is a sentiment echoed by many as unions like WGA and SAG-AFTRA are making collective efforts to stand against studio practices they consider unfair.
With the resumption of “The Drew Barrymore Show,” industry insiders suggest that other talk shows, including CBS’ “The Talk” and the syndicated “Jennifer Hudson Show,” might also return to air on September 18 without employing WGA writers.