Drew Barrymore backtracks: Talk show paused until Hollywood strikes end after union criticism


Actress Drew Barrymore will delay the season premiere of her daytime talk show until the writers’ union ends its monthslong strike, she announced Sunday, apologizing to those she “hurt” after her initial decision to resume production of The Drew Barrymore Show drew stiff criticism from striking writers and actors.
Drew Barrymore attends the 2023 Time100 Gala at Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 26, 2023 in New York City. WIREIMAGE
Key facts
  • Barrymore said last week her show would return to television without writers in compliance with strike rules so the rest of her staff can go back to work, a decision that was immediately hit with backlash from writers and actors on social media, including a group of Writers Guild of America members who almost immediately started picketing outside CBS Broadcast Center.
  • Barrymore initially stood by her decision and as recently as Friday said the backlash hadn’t changed her mind, calling the decision “complex” and voting to “take full responsibility” for her show’s return, but saying “there are other people’s jobs on the line,” likely referring to the show’s non-writing staff.
  • The host changed her tune on Sunday and said in an Instagram post she’s decided to pause the show’s return, adding she has “no words to express my deepest apologies to anyone I have hurt.”
  • CBS Media Ventures—which distributes Barrymore’s syndicated daytime show—said in a statement to NBC News it supports Barrymore’s decision to pause production and that the network understands “how complex and difficult this process has been for her.”
Crucial quote

“We really tried to find our way forward,” Drew Barrymore’s post said Sunday. “And I truly hope for a resolution for the entire industry very soon.”

Members of the WGA-EAST and SAG-AFTRA picket outside of The Drew Barrymore Show as audience members arrive ahead of the show at CBS Broadcast Center on September 12, 2023 in New York City. GETTY IMAGES
Key background

The Writers Guild of America have been on strike for 138 days in a move that could soon become the largest WGA labor stoppage since a 154-day strike in 1988.

The SAG-AFTRA union, which represents 160,000 actors and other performers, joined the writers on strike on July 13, bringing much of Hollywood to a halt, though Barrymore’s daytime talk show hosting duties aren’t covered by the actors’ strike as long as she or union members don’t discuss film or TV projects on her show.

Both groups are pushing for artificial intelligence protections and greater residual payments for shows on streaming platforms. The writers are also calling for better wages and minimum staffing requirements.

Together, more than 171,500 people are on strike. Other talk shows—including Real Time with Bill Maher and The Jennifer Hudson Showare returning without their WGA writers while others, like most late night talk shows, remain off the air.

Some shows like Live! With Kelly and Mark have returned because they do not employ WGA writers. Barrymore in May pulled out of hosting the MTV Movie & TV Awards in support of the strikes, and will now host the event in 2024.

Chief critic

Among those who spoke out against Barrymore’s initial decision to return include The Drew Barrymore Show co-head writer Cristina Kinon and former WGA board member David Slack, who said it would be impossible for the show to return without someone doing the work WGA writers normally do.

After saying her show would return, the National Book Foundation rescinded Barrymore’s invitation to host the upcoming National Book Awards Ceremony in November.


Dozens of Hollywood stars have offered up signed memorabilia and unique experiences through an auction to support crew members who’ve lost their healthcare due to strike-related shutdowns.

The Union Solidarity Coalition posted the eBay auction last week with more than 100 items or opportunities for sale, including a pottery class with Busy Philipps, a zoom with the cast of New Girl and a dog walk from actor Adam Scott.

The most expensive items currently listed are a dinner with comedians Bob Odenkirk and David Cross ($10,000), an original song written and sung by the cast of Bob’s Burgersand help with the New York Times crossword by actress Natasha Lyonne. The auction will end Friday.

This article was first published on forbes.com and all figures are in USD.

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