Drew Barrymore has responded to the backlash over her resuming production of her talk show despite the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes.
The SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild And American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) and the Writers Guild of America (WGA) are currently on the picket lines for the first dual Hollywood strike action since 1960. Their current dispute with television networks relates to issues over pay, working conditions and the threat posed to their jobs by unregulated AI.
Per The Hollywood Reporter, The Drew Barrymore Show is produced and distributed by CBS Media Ventures, which is part of Paramount Global — one of the media companies WGA writers are currently striking against. In order to resume production, the show will resume without any writing or literary work so that it is compliant with the terms of the strike.
Despite this, the union criticised the move and picketed outside CBS Broadcast Center in New York as taping resumed this week.
“I certainly couldn’t have expected this kind of attention,” Barrymore said in a video shared to social media. “We aren’t gonna break rules, and we will be in compliance. I wanted to do this because as I said, this is bigger than me, and there are other people’s jobs on the line.
“I don’t exactly know what to say because sometimes when things are so tough, it’s hard to make decisions from that place,” she said. “So all I can say is that I wanted to accept responsibility, and now I don’t have a PR machine behind this. My decision to go back to the show — I didn’t want to hide behind people. I won’t polish this with bells and whistles and publicists and corporate rhetoric. I’ll just stand out there and accept and be responsible.”
She concluded: “Since launching live in a pandemic, I just wanted to make a show that was there for people in sensitive times, and I weighed the scales and I thought if we could go on during a global pandemic, and everything that the world experienced through 2020, why would this sideline us? So I want to just put one foot in front of the other and make a show that’s there for people regardless of anything else that’s happening in the world because that’s when I think we all need something that wants to be there being very realistic in very realistic times.”
The video has since been taken down without explanation after Barrymore received further criticism.
This is so lame. Just say you’re a scab. We don’t need all the throat clearing
— Molly Jong-Fast (@MollyJongFast) September 15, 2023
Alyssa Milano told The Associated Press that it was “not a great move” on Barrymore’s part, while Bradley Whitford also spoke out against the decision.
“Drew Barrymore would like you to know that undermining union solidarity at the most crucial moment in Hollywood labor history makes her the victim,” he wrote on Twitter. “This has been, like, a super tough week for her.”
The fourth season of The Drew Barrymore Show is scheduled to premiere on September 18. Any actor who appears as a guest on the programme is not allowed to discuss or promote their struck projects, per the rules of the SAG-AFTRA strike.
Meanwhile, SAG-AFTRA last week announced its intention to authorise a strike against major game publishers.