Drew Barrymore has come under fire after announcing that she has started work on the fourth season of her daytime talk show, despite the ongoing strikes by writers and actors in Hollywood.
The Writer’s Guild of America has confirmed The Drew Barrymore Show is a “WAG-covered, struck show”, which means its members cannot work on the production for the duration of the strike.
Barrymore, 48, wrote on Instagram that she’s “taking a step forward to start season four” in line with the rules of the strikes, which began in May as writers sought better financial compensation amid an ongoing labour dispute with Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.
However, the WGA said it would continue to picket shows “that are in production during the strike”, which includes The Drew Barrymore Show.
Explaining her decision, Barrymore said she’s “making the choice to come back for the first time in the strike” for the show “that may have my name on it but this is bigger than just me”.
Her announcement has sparked criticism on social media from a number of industry figures, as well as Barrymore’s own fans.
“This is incredibly disappointing,” comedian and writer Adam Conover wrote on Twitter/X, tagging Barrymore’s account. “[Her] show employs WGA writers who are currently on strike. She is choosing to go back on the air without them, and forcing her guests to cross a picket line. Drew: This harms your writers and all union workers. Please reconsider.”
Screenwriter Avishai Weinberger tweeted: “I understand why Drew Barrymore is doing this. 100 per cent. Her show employs people, and those people are suffering. I sympathise.
“Yes, And. We can’t allow exceptions. If there’s one, there’ll be more. We haven’t fought this long, suffered this much, to let the wall crack.”
US actor Felicia Day commented: “Sooo who is writing her opening monologue and literally everything else on this show when it starts up again next week? Scab writers?! Ughhhh gross Drew Barrymore. Gross.”
A “scab” is a perjorative term for someone who works despite a strike.
“Since the strike prohibits studios sending them out to actually promote work, I plan to heavily side-eye every single famous actor friend of Drew Barrymore who comes to sit on her couch and chat about skincare or their childhoods while their fellow union members are out picketing,” playwright Claire Willett said.
The Independent has contacted representatives for Barrymore for comment.
In her statement, Barrymore highlighted that she “walked away from the MTV film and television awards” over a direct conflict with the strikes agains “studios, streamers, film, and television”.
“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,” she added, noting that the talk show was never shut down due to the strikes, because shooting had wrapped by the time they began.
“However, I am also making the choice to come back for the first time in this strike for our show, that may have my name on it but this is bigger than just me,” she said.
She added that the production is “in compliance with not discussing or promoting film and television that is struck of any kind” and that “we have navigated difficult times since we came on air”, referring to the fact thatThe Drew Barrymore Show was released amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
“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.
The WGA confirmed that union members will picket outside Barrymore’s studios starting Monday (11 September) in New York as The Drew Barrymore Show “has now (unfortunately) decided to return without its writers” in a statement to Vanity Fair.
“The Drew Barrymore Show is a WGA-covered, struck show. It has stayed off the air since the strike began on 2 May, but has now (unfortunately) decided to return without its writers,” a spokesperson for the guild said.
“The Guild has, and will continue to, picket any struck show that continues production for the duration of the strike.”
He was responding to a comment from CBS, that produces The Drew Barrymore Show, who noted it “will not be performing any writing work covered by the WGA strike.”