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‘Union scab’ Drew Barrymore turns tail, drops plan to resume show

By CM Chaney · September 18, 2023

In brief…

  • Drew Barrymore has paused the premiere of her talk show following a backlash over her initial decision to continue production while her unionized writers are on strike.
  • The Writers Guild of America slammed Barrymore's decision to resume the show during the strike.
  • Rosie O'Donnell and other celebrities have urged Barrymore to stop taping her show and support her writers.
  • The strike has placed a spotlight on the complexities of labor disputes in Hollywood and the expectations of celebrities during a roiling labor disbute.
Drew Barrymore paused production of her talk show due to criticism for taping during the Hollywood writers strike.  Glyn Lowe PhotoWorks/Wikimedia

Drew Barrymore has decided to pause the premiere of the third season of her talk show until the ongoing Hollywood writers’ strike comes to an end. The decision comes after the actress faced intense criticism for continuing production on “The Drew Barrymore Show“without her three unionized writers, who are participating in the strike.

Barrymore took to Instagram to announce her decision, apologizing to those she had hurt and acknowledging the complexities of the situation.

“I have listened to everyone, and I am making the decision to pause the show’s premiere until the strike is over,” she wrote. “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.”

The decision to pause the show comes after a backlash from the writing community, with many calling out Barrymore - who hails from one of America’s oldest theatrical families - for crossing the picket line. Rosie O’Donnell, a fellow actress and talk show host, was among those who urged Barrymore to hit pause, advising her on Instagram to “stop taping the show… then ask someone to help you craft three declarative sentences.”

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) also criticized Barrymore’s decision to resume the show during the strike, stating it was a struck show and that union members would be picketing outside her studios. The Guild insisted that shows like “The Drew Barrymore Show” cannot operate without writes, and that it was unfair to ask them to work without a fair deal.

Barrymore’s move to suspend the show amid the controversy highlights the growing tensions between Hollywood’s producers and writers as the work action continues. The strike, which commenced May 2, has been the largest disruption to the industry since the COVID-19 pandemic, affecting productions throughout the industry.

While some have praised Barrymore’s decision to suspend her show, others have criticized her for not taking a stronger stance in support of the writers.

Cristina Kinon, one of the show’s striking writers, told The Daily Beast that Barrymore could have done a great deal more to help television industry workers impacted by the strikes and show her support.

“I personally understand that everybody has to make the best decision for themselves,” Kinon said. “I know that this show has a crew of hundreds of people who need to be paid. And I understand the perspective of wanting to protect your cast, your crew, and your staff.”

The development raises questions about the role of celebrities in labor disputes and their responsibility to support workers in their industry. As the strike continues, it remains to be seen how other celebrities and productions will navigate the complex issues and politics at play.

In the meantime, fans of “The Drew Barrymore Show” will have to wait until the strike is resolved to see new episodes. That said, Barrymore’s decision to pause the show is viewed by many industry veterans as a bright spot as the strike grinds on.