Drew Barrymore’s Show Is Picketed as It Resumes Amid Writers’ Strike

When Drew Barrymore announced in May that she was stepping down as host of the MTV Movie & TV Awards to show solidarity with striking Hollywood writers, she received an outpouring of praise from fans and viewers who supported her stance.

But the news that she would be bringing her daytime talk show back without its unionized writers was met with a very different response: A group of picketers demonstrated on Monday outside the CBS studios in Manhattan, where the show was taping the first episode of its fourth season, which is scheduled to be broadcast next week. One man held a sign that said, “Drew the right thing.”

The network said “The Drew Barrymore Show,” a sunny, interview-oriented program that debuted in 2020, was returning without written material that is “covered by the W.G.A. strike” — similar to the approach taken by some other talk shows during the dual strikes by writers and actors that have shut down much of Hollywood. “The View,” the daytime juggernaut, began airing episodes from its new season this month.

On Monday afternoon, as “The Drew Barrymore Show” prepared to tape its first episode since April, a couple of dozen picketers from both the Writers Guild of America and the union that represents actors, SAG-AFTRA, marched outside CBS Broadcast Center on West 57th Street, as audience members lined up along the sidewalk for the day’s taping.

Barrymore, the actress turned host, defended the show’s decision to return in an Instagram post on Sunday, saying that the show, which begins airing new episodes on Sept. 18, would be “in compliance with not discussing or promoting film and television that is struck of any kind.”

“I own this choice,” she said in the post, adding: “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. 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.”

The Writers Guild of America wrote on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, that the show was covered by its union and that “any writing on ‘The Drew Barrymore Show’ is in violation of WGA strike rules.”

Other daytime television programs, including ABC’s “Tamron Hall” and “Live With Kelly and Mark” have aired new programming during the writers’ strike, which has lasted more than four months.

Cristina Kinon, a co-head writer of “The Drew Barrymore Show” who carried a sign at the picket that said “Drew’s WGA crew,” said she was one of three striking union writers at the show, and that they learned the show would be returning when production put out a call for audience members.

“I’m disappointed,” said Kinon, who has been with the show since its pilot. “I wish that everyone in the industry could stand in solidarity with the unions. But everyone has to make their own personal decision.”

Late-night shows, which are more reliant on writers, are still dark. During the last strike, which started in 2007, the hosts came back gradually after about two months while their writers continued to strike. None have opted to do so yet.

Instead, five of the hosts — including Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Meyers and John Oliver — recently started a podcast, called “Strike Force Five,” with the proceeds going toward support for their shows’ staffs.

Part of the backlash centers on Barrymore’s decision early on in the strike to bow out as host of the MTV Movie & TV Awards. At the time, Kinon said, the talk show had already gone on its summer hiatus, but she had been involved with writing Barrymore’s material for the awards show until the host decided to drop out.

In her Instagram post, Barrymore said she had made the decision to step down from MTV hosting duties because the show “had a direct conflict with what the strike was dealing with which was studios, streamers, film, and television.”

“I did what I thought was the appropriate thing at the time to stand in solidarity with the writers,” Barrymore said in the post. She added, “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.”

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