Live audience tapings for the fourth season of The Drew Barrymore Show began filming on Sept. 11—despite the active picket line outside the building.
Barrymore said on Sunday that the talk show would resume amid the ongoing strikes by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA). The Drew Barrymore Show is covered under the WGA’s film and TV contract and its writers have been on strike since May. In a statement posted to Instagram, Barrymore clarified that the previous season ended on April 20, before the writers’ strike began.
Now, the talk show will begin airing again on Sept. 18 without WGA writers there to help create things like the opening monologue, interview questions, and jokes. The show “will not be performing any writing work covered by the WGA strike,” a spokesperson for CBS Media Ventures told the Los Angeles Times.
Barrymore herself, a producer on the show, or an outside writer hired to fill the role will have to come up with the material. Either way it happens, the production would be crossing the WGA picket line.
“I own this choice,” Barrymore wrote on Instagram. “We are in compliance with not discussing or promoting film and television that is struck of any kind.”
“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,” she continued. “I hope for a resolve for everyone as soon as possible.”
On Monday morning, writers from The Drew Barrymore Show joined other WGA members on strike outside of the CBS Broadcast Center. They even provided a coffee cart for those picketing.
Two audience members at Monday’s taping said they were asked to leave because they were wearing WGA pins. When they walked into the show, picketers gave them buttons that said “Writers Guild on Strike,” which they put on. A crew member saw one of the buttons and asked them both to leave, they said. They then joined the picket line outside. (In a statement to The Wrap, a spokesperson for the show said Barrymore was “completely unaware of the incident,” and that they were “in the process of reaching out to the affected audience members to offer them new tickets.”)
On Tuesday, the National Book Foundation, which had asked Barrymore to host this year's National Book Awards, rescinded the invitation "in light of the announcement" that the talk show would resume production.
Barrymore’s decision was especially surprising to many in the entertainment industry given that she had previously stepped down from hosting the annual MTV Movie & TV Awards in May in solidarity with the writers’ strike. “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 in the same Instagram post. “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.”
By resuming the talk show, Barrymore could, however, avoid defying the simultaneous SAG-AFTRA strike.
SAG comprises multiple distinct bargaining units. The union’s Television/Theatrical/Streaming contracts expired in mid July without reaching an agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), leading to the current SAG strike.
Also within SAG, though, is the Network Television Code (Netcode) contract, which covers talk shows like The Drew Barrymore Show. SAG members working on these shows (or on reality TV, sports, morning news shows, soap operas, or game shows) are not currently on strike.
So as long as Barrymore and the guests she brings onto the show don’t discuss or promote work covered by SAG’s Television/Theatrical/Streaming contracts, like movies or TV shows, she’s not technically breaking the SAG strike.
“I think in general, this is obviously bigger than us three writers on The Drew Barrymore Show,” Chelsea White, one of the show’s writers, told the Hollywood Reporter. “It is a bummer to hear that the show is going back because it sends a message that union writers are not valuable. And it goes directly against what the WGA, SAG-AFTRA, all the unions are trying to band together to stand up against the greedy studios.”
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