Drew Barrymore’s show in turmoil after backlash over strike decision

Drew Barrymore’s talk show has been hit with more drama, less than a fortnight before its long-awaited return following the writers’ strike.

The actor and TV host sparked industry backlash last month after announcing that her program would be returning to production, while Hollywood was still at a standstill as members of the Writers’ Guide of America rallied for more fair workplace agreements.

At the time, Barrymore defiantly told fans that she would “own this choice” on social media, but was forced to backflip on her decision and apologise just days later after coming under fire by industry peers.

With a WGA deal having finally been struck and an October 16 premiere date set for The Drew Barrymore Show – it’s now being reported that three of her most senior staff are refusing to return to work.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, co-head writers Chelsea White, Cristina Kinon and Liz Koe have all declined to resume working on the show, after being very vocal in their protest against Barrymore’s initial decision to continue broadcasting mid-strike in September.

The Emmy-winning writers were reportedly seen out the front of The Drew Barrymore Show’s studio in Manhattan at the time, holding signs that read “Honk if you [love] union labour” and “Drew’s News: Strikes.”

White also told THR that the trio had discovered the show was returning early through promos on social media, rather than directly from their boss.

“It is a bummer to hear that the show is going back because it sends a message that union writers are not valuable,” she told the publication.

“I understand that everybody has to do what they feel is best for them,” Kinon added.

“For me and the WGA writers on the show, it’s important for us to stick with our union. We deserve a fair contract, so we are here today outside.”

All three declined to comment when asked by THR at the time whether they would return to Barrymore’s show once the strikes had ended.

In early September, Barrymore’s announcement that she was going back into production without her writers before a resolution landed her in PR hot water – but also didn’t technically violate strike rules.

The Drew Barrymore Show is produced under the Network Television Code, which is a separate contract and is not struck. It is permissible work and Drew’s role as host does not violate the current strike rules,” a spokesman for the union said at the time.

In a lengthy Instagram post, the actor had defended her decision to begin filming the fourth season of the show sooner than expected, explaining that it “may have my name” but it is “bigger than just me”.

“I own this choice. We are in compliance with not discussing or promoting film and television that is struck of any kind. 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,” she wrote.

Barrymore added that her decision was also sparked from wanting to provide work for her colleagues and entertainment for viewers.

“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,” she continued.

“We have navigated difficult times since we first came on air. And so I take a step forward to start season 4 once again with an astute humility.”

However, just days later and amid heavy criticism, Barrymore issued a tearful apology video, reversing her earlier decision.

“I have listened to everyone, and I am making the decision to pause the show’s premiere until the strike is over,” she said in the now-deleted post.

“I have no words to express my deepest apologies to anyone I have hurt and, of course, to our incredible team who works on the show and has made it what it is today. We really tried to find our way forward. And I truly hope for a resolution for the entire industry very soon.”

The long, contentious writers’ strike officially ended on September 27 after 148 days, while the SAG-AFTRA (the union which represents actors, performers and other media professionals) strike is continuing.

However, the WGA resolution is likely to set the tone for SAG-AFTRA, and negotiations have resumed this week.

Leave a Comment