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WGA Pickets Planned As ‘The Drew Barrymore Show’ Resumes Without Writers

Speaking in support of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike in May, actress and talk show host Drew Barrymore said “Everything we celebrate and honor about movies and television is born out of their creation.” It’s a sentiment seemingly shared by most talk show leads and productions, as those shows were the first to go dark as the strike began on May 2. But now it appears that Barrymore has rethought the importance of writers to her show, The Drew Barrymore Show, which returns to airwaves later this month—that is, if its workers, crew, and guests are willing to cross a planned picket line.

CBS announced last week that Barrymore’s show would begin broadcasting new episodes on Sept. 18, but didn’t mention Barrymore’s earlier pro-union stance. A few months ago, it was a belief so deeply founded that she backed out of hosting the MTV Movie & TV Awards, saying then that “I have listened to the writers, and in order to truly respect them, I will pivot from hosting the MTV Movie & TV Awards live in solidarity with the strike.” (The Drew Barrymore Show had embarked on its scheduled summer hiatus before the WGA strike began, so Barrymore didn’t have to make a similar judgement call for her flagship property.)

When contacted by Vanity Fair, a CBS spokesperson suggested that The Drew Barrymore Show’s resumption didn’t conflict with those beliefs, as the talk show “will not be performing any writing work covered by the WGA strike.” (Vanity Fair also reached out to a Barrymore representative for comment, but did not receive a response as of publication time.)

Speaking with Vanity Fair, WGA spokesperson Jason Gordon suggests that CBS’s claim fails to hold water. “The Drew Barrymore Show is a WGA-covered struck television show. It has stayed off the air since the strike began on May 2nd, but has now (unfortunately) decided to return without its writers,” he says. 

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“The Guild has, and will continue to, picket any struck show that continues production during the duration of the strike,” Gordon says, including Barrymore’s. In fact, the pickets will begin even before the nationally-syndicated show hits your TV: According to Cracked, which first reported on the picket action, writers will descend on the CBS Broadcast Center at 530 West 57th Street starting at 6:30 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 11, which happens to be the first day audience members will be welcomed into Barrymore’s studio for tapings. A second day of picketing is planned for Sept. 12, Cracked reports.

So, Barrymore, employees, and audience members will cross a WGA picket line to attend the tapings, but what about her celebrity guests? Members of the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) have been on strike since mid-July, and under those rules they are allowed to appear on talk shows, as long as they restrain themselves from promoting any work distributed, produced, or financed by studios or streaming platforms that are part of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). 

That said, during this strike, SAG-AFTRA has expressed solidarity with the WGA, which might preclude those appearances. (Vanity Fair reached out to SAG-AFTRA for greater illumination on this matter, but didn’t receive a response as of publication.) 

Answers about which stars might sit down with Drew might be found on the sets of other daytime talk shows like Tamron Hall, Live with Kelly and Mark, and The View, the last of which is also the site of WGA pickets. Those daytime talk shows—unlike most others—have also resumed production of original, albeit writerless episodes, even as the strikes continue.

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