Drew Barrymore Defends Talk Show Return Amid WGA Strike After Growing Criticism: “There Are Other People’s Jobs on the Line”

Drew Barrymore is explaining why she made the controversial decision to return her talk show to production amid the ongoing Writers Guild strike, telling critics in a now-deleted video that there’s “nothing I can do or say in this moment to make” resuming production without her picketing writers “OK.”

In a video statement that was posted to her Instagram on Friday (below), Barrymore reiterated the previous assertion from CBS Media Ventures that The Drew Barrymore Show will be returning in “compliance” with the WGA’s strike rules. That’s despite ongoing backlash from members of the union and the union itself picketing outside CBS Broadcast Center in New York as taping resumed this week.

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“I certainly couldn’t have expected this kind of attention,” the actress, producer and talk show host says about her decision. “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.”

The actress and host denied that a “PR machine” was behind the choice to resume the show without its WGA writers. Her video comes one day after the WGA and AMPTP publicly stated they were scheduling a meeting next week. (The studios have not returned to negotiations with SAG-AFTRA, which is also on strike under a different contract than the one that covers Barrymore’s talk show.)

“I don’t exactly know what to say because sometimes when things are so tough, it’s hard to make decisions from that place. So all I can say is that I wanted to accept responsibility, and no, 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,” she said. “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.”

Barrymore removed the video from her Instagram account hours after she posted it after receiving further criticism from the likes of Alyssa Milano, Bradley Whitford and more. Milano told The Associated Press that it was “not a great move” on Barrymore’s part, while Whitford took a sarcastic approach.

“Drew Barrymore would like you to know that undermining union solidarity at the most crucial moment in Hollywood labor history makes her the victim,” The Handmaid’s Tale actor wrote on Twitter. “This has been, like, a super tough week for her.”

CBS Media Ventures, which produces and distributes The Drew Barrymore Show, is part of Paramount Global, one of the media companies writers are striking against. Some daytime talk shows, including Barrymore’s, employ WGA writers, though typically not as many as late night shows or scripted series. Two other WGA-covered shows, CBS’ The Talk and the Warner Bros.-distributed Jennifer Hudson Show, are also set to return Sept. 18, with pickets likely outside both. ABC’s The View has been airing throughout the writers strike (and has been picketed), though the network has said no one is performing the duties of the two WGA writers it had on staff prior to the labor stoppage.

Barrymore noted that the reason for the return was based partly on her and the show’s experiences during the pandemic.

“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?” she noted. “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.”

Earlier in the week, Barrymore announced in another Instagram post, which has also been deleted, that her self-titled talk show would be returning amid the dual strikes, without writers.

Rick Porter and Christy Piña contributed to this story.

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