Supposed Union Backer Drew Barrymore Seems to Have Turned Union Buster

Back in May, the daytime talk show host refused to host the MTV Movie & TV Awards live out of solidarity with the writers, but now ‘The Drew Barrymore Show’ is returning to production tomorrow, earning the ire of the striking WGA
Supposed Union Backer Drew Barrymore Seems to Have Turned Union Buster

When the current WGA strike was announced on May 1st, a lot of decisions had to be made to adjust to the situation. Talk shows went dark. Scripted shows cut their seasons short and sent everyone home. And one live award show lost its host. 

“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,” said Drew Barrymore in a statement on May 4th. “Everything we celebrate and honor about movies and television is born out of their creation. And until a solution is reached, I am choosing to wait, but I’ll be watching from home and hope you will join me.” 

Bruce Gillmer, President of Music, Music Talent, Programming and Events at Paramount Global, and an executive producer of the MTV Movie & TV Awards, was quoted (in the same Variety piece linked above) saying that since Barrymore had even brought along some of her team to work on the award show, producers expected that she might make this choice: “She is not surprisingly, standing in solidarity with the writers, which we have full respect for.”

That was then. Now, Season Four of The Drew Barrymore Show is premiering September 18th, but not all members of her team will be inside the building — many will be outside, picketing with the WGA.

The talk show’s renewal was announced in January, but it’s been on hiatus during the WGA strike. In a quick survey of news reports announcing the Season Four premiere date, most don’t mention the strike at all; only Parade notes, “While a number of talk shows have been impacted by the ongoing WGA strike, The Drew Barrymore Show, which will not be performing any writing work covered by the WGA strike, will air all new episodes this fall.”

Evidently, WGA leadership isn’t so sure this claim has any merit. Members in New York will be picketing this week, and included a schedule that was sent out last Thursday, the same day the news of Barrymore’s return broke.

Given the unequivocal language Barrymore used to explain her withdrawal from the MTV Movie & TV Awards, her decision to return to work does come as a shock. Granted, the AMPTP’s refusal to negotiate means other production staffers are also suffering financially, but for Barrymore to place herself on the same side as executives whose strategy is letting “union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses” doesn’t align with her image as an exemplar of “active love.” Maybe it wouldn’t be on-brand for Barrymore to support her staffers with a daytime-host version of Strike Force Five. But rather than go back to work without key personnel — her writers — Barrymore could have earmarked a share of profits from her housewares line. Or her beauty line. Or her cleaning products line.

That didn’t happen, though, so: Did you know anyone can join a picket line — you don’t have to be a member of the Writers Guild or any union? Which means you can still see who's appearing on her new episodes — alongside her striking staff outside the studio.

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