‘The Drew Barrymore Show’ Finds Itself at the Center of the Strike

dbs_sp_hero_landscape_0 - Credit: CBS
dbs_sp_hero_landscape_0 - Credit: CBS

The Drew Barrymore Show resumed filming in the midst of the dual writers’ and actors’ strike, sparking criticism from the show’s writers who picketed outside the studio on Monday. The Writers Guild of America East also confirmed in a statement on Twitter, “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. Any writing on ‘The Drew Barrymore Show’ is in violation of WGA strike rules.”

Chelsea White, one of three writers who was picketing outside CBS’ studios, told The Hollywood Reporter she was disappointed about the network’s decision for the show to continue.

“I think in general, this is obviously bigger than us three writers on The Drew Barrymore Show,” White said. “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.” (A CBS Media Ventures spokesperson told Rolling Stone, “The Drew Barrymore Show will not be performing any writing work covered by the WGA strike.”)

Last week, CBS announced the popular daytime talk show, which is in its fourth season, will begin airing on Monday, September 18. As far as SAG-AFTRA strike rules, Barrymore is technically allowed to film the daytime talk show because even though she’s a SAG member herself, guild contracts for talk shows were renewed last year. But The Drew Barrymore Show also employs members of the Writers Guild of America, so people aren’t fully sold on the ethics of making the TV show sans those writers. Without the show’s writers, producers and other staffers will likely step in to put together the jokes, interview questions, and opening monologue, which means other people will be doing the writing work that guild members typically do.

Critics online are saying Barrymore and others involved in bringing the show back to television during the writers’ strike are scabbing, a term used to refer to workers who don’t participate in a union strike or who take on a worker’s job while they’re striking. Actor Bradley Whitford tweeted of Barrymore’s decision, “we’ll never forget it,” while his West Wing co-star Joshua Malina called it “utter horseshit.”

Liz Koe, another writer on The Drew Barrymore Show, told The Hollywood Reporter she thinks “it’s a complicated issue.”

“I think that Drew cares about the show. She cares about the crew, She cares about us. She cares about everything and I think she made the best decision that she could, given all those things. And I feel like coming out here today is not a personal thing at all, it’s really the opposite, it’s a collective thing,” she said.

A pair of audience members who were supposed to attend Monday’s taping of the show also shared on social media that they were allegedly asked to leave when staffers saw they were wearing WGA pins that they were given by picketers outside the studio. Dominic Turiczek, one of the audience members, told The Hollywood Reporter he and his friend joined the picket outside after they were kicked out.

“If they think we’re part of the strike, we might as well be,” he said.

Barrymore addressed the show’s return in a written Instagram statement on Sunday. “I own this choice. 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,” 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.”

Back in May when the writers first went on strike, Barrymore stepped down from hosting the MTV Movie & TV Awards in solidarity with them.

“I have listened to the writers, and in order to truly respect them, I will pivot from hosting the MTV Movie & TV Awards live in solidarity with the strike,” she said in a statement at the time. “Everything we celebrate and honor about movies and television is born out of their creation. And until a solution is reached, I am choosing to wait but I’ll be watching from home and hope you will join me.”

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