Sep 18, 2023

Drew Barrymore Delays Show’s Return Until End of Strike

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Drew Barrymore, amidst a wave of criticism, has reversed her decision to resume her show’s production during the Hollywood strike, a move that garnered support from at least two other television programs.

Barrymore made her change of heart public through an Instagram post, just a day before her talk show was scheduled to return to the airwaves. The production had resumed taping the previous Monday for her daytime program.

Following this announcement, “The Jennifer Hudson Show,” produced by Warner Bros., and CBS’s “The Talk” also reconsidered their plans to begin airing new episodes on Monday. CBS issued a statement on Sunday regarding “The Talk,” indicating that they would pause the season premiere and “evaluate plans for a new launch date.”

Barrymore’s decision to recommence production drew the ire of picketers from the striking writers’ and actors’ unions. On Friday, she passionately defended her choice in an emotional Instagram video, stating, “This is bigger than me.”

CBS Media Ventures, the producer of “The Drew Barrymore Show,” initially supported her stance, emphasizing that over 150 jobs would be affected. The company explained that Barrymore intended to continue the show with a completely ad-libbed format, without any replacements for the three striking writers.

However, on Friday night, she deleted the video and, on Sunday morning, issued a statement reversing her position. The syndicated program was set to begin airing new episodes on Monday.

“I have listened to everyone, and I am making the decision to pause the show’s premiere until the strike is over,” her statement read. “I have no words to express my deepest apologies to anyone I have hurt and, of course, to our incredible team who works on the show and has made it what it is today. We really tried to find our way forward. And I truly hope for a resolution for the entire industry very soon.

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CBS Media expressed its support for Drew Barrymore’s latest decision and acknowledged the complexity and challenges she faced in the process.

While Barrymore was not the sole daytime talk show host to announce a return during the strikes, she faced the most criticism, partly due to her decision in May to step down from hosting the MTV Movie and TV Awards in solidarity with Writers Guild of America members.

“The View,” a daytime powerhouse, has continued airing new episodes produced without its unionized writers.

Bill Maher recently announced the return of his weekly HBO show, defending his decision on social media by expressing concern for the well-being of below-the-line workers and not wanting to lose an entire year.

Members of the Writers Guild have been on strike since May, and the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists initiated its strike in July.

While Barrymore is a member of SAG-AFTRA, her role as a host is governed by a separate agreement known as the Network Code, technically permitting her to proceed with her show during the strike.

Late-night shows also have the same option, yet many network hosts have chosen not to exercise it. Instead, five prominent hosts—Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Meyers, and John Oliver—have launched a podcast together, with proceeds going to support their staff.

After Barrymore’s experience, other hosts may find the prospect of returning during the strikes even less appealing. Just one day after her show resumed production, the National Book Foundation removed her as the host of the National Book Awards.

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Her social media channels were flooded with calls for her to reconsider her decision to resume production, advice she heeded in less than a week.

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