Drew Barrymore Betrays the Unions

Talk-show host crosses the pickets in the first volley of what looks to be a long, contentious, content-free fall TV season

The show must go on. Well, The Drew Barrymore Show will, at least.

Barrymore’s talk show will premiere its fourth season on CBS Sept. 18 without its three writers from the Writers Guild of America. Barrymore announced the decision Sunday in an Instagram post, saying that she will not discuss struck work, keeping with WGA and SAG-AFTRA strike guidelines.

“I own this choice,” she wrote.

Barrymore drew a lot of ire with that announcement. While technically not in violation of strike rules, people online saw the move as scabbing. Back in May, Barrymore stepped down as the host of this year’s MTV Movie & Music Awards, citing the strike. But on Sunday, she said that she wanted “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.”

The WGA didn’t buy it.

“The @DrewBarrymoreTV Show is a WGA covered, struck show that is planning to return without its writers. The Guild has, and will continue to, picket struck shows that are in production during the strike. Any writing on “The Drew Barrymore Show” is in violation of WGA strike rules,” the WGA posted to X (formerly Twitter) Sunday.

The three WGA staff members for the Drew Barrymore Show picketed outside CBS Studios in New York Monday alongside other WGA members. The show also kicked out two audience members who signed up for free tickets to show tapings for wearing pins in support of the WGA that picketers gave them, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The two audience members ended up joining the picket lines outside.

“It is our policy to welcome everyone to our show tapings. Due to heightened security concerns today, we regret that two audience members were not permitted to attend or were not allowed access. Drew was completely unaware of the incident and we are in the process of reaching out to the affected audience members to offer them new tickets,” a Drew Barrymore Show spokesperson told THR.

On Tuesday, there were multiple reports online that Drew Barrymore Show staffers searched audience members’ bags for WGA pins.

As one of my friends says when she’s arguing about conspiracy theories: Cui bono? Who benefits? If you said “CBS,” you’re right! Or, at least, CBS is hoping to benefit.

Certainly, this decision isn’t benefitting Barrymore, or her standing with the WGA right now. This decision also just cost Barrymore her gig hosting the 2023 National Book Awards less than two months after the National Book Foundation announced her as host.

I can’t imagine it would benefit any actors or guild members who appear on the show, since there would be nothing to talk about except to shoot the shit, and then they would have to deal with the guild after any appearances. And it can’t benefit whoever has to write whatever skits or games end up airing on the show.

This is a desperate move for content from CBS. The fall TV season is fast approaching, and the strikes show no signs of stopping. The Talk, also a CBS property, is also planning a Sept. 18 comeback, as is The Jennifer Hudson Show at Warner Bros.

At the rate we’re going, the only thing on network TV in a month will be reruns and daytime talk shows full of celebrities who can’t promote anything they’re working on, all so the corporations that air these shows can avoid paying fair residuals to writers and actors.



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Jake Harris

Jake Harris is a Texas-based journalist whose writing about pop culture and entertainment has appeared in the Austin American-Statesman, the Chattanooga Times Free Press, the Nashville Scene and more. You can find more of his writings at jakeharrisbog.com or through his pop culture newsletter, Jacob's Letter.

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