Hollywood talk show hosts Drew Barrymore and Bill Maher have announced plans to rescind restarting their shows this week as Hollywood writers and actors continue to strike against major studios and streaming services.
Decisions announced late last week by the two to restart production without writers sparked an uproar within the industry.
Members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) are still walking picket lines after separate contract negotiations fell through earlier this year with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).
On Sept. 18, Mr. Maher explained his decision to back off plans to resume his talk show, “Real Time.”
“Much of the staff is struggling mightily,” he said. “We all were hopeful this would come to an end after Labor Day, but that day has come and gone, and there still seems to be nothing happening.”
Mr. Maher added he was prepared to do the show without a monologue or written pieces and said it would not be as good as his regular show.
The WGA said Sept. 14 Mr. Maher’s decision to restart his show was “disappointing.”
“Bill Maher’s decision to go back on the air while his Guild is on strike is disappointing,” the organization said in a post on X. “If he goes forward with his plan, he needs to honor more than ‘the spirit of the strike.’ As a WGA member, [Bill Maher] is obligated to follow the strike rules and not perform any writing services.”
Ms. Barrymore announced Sept. 17 she would pause the season premier of her daytime talk show, “The Drew Barrymore Show,” until the strike ends.
“I have listened to everyone, and I am making the decision to pause the show’s premiere until the strike is over,” the actress said on Instagram. “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 had 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.”
“There are so many reasons why this is so complex, and I just want everyone to know my intentions have never been in a place to upset or hurt anyone,” she said in the video posted Friday. “It’s not who I am. I’ve been through so many ups and downs in my life, and this is one of them. I deeply apologize to writers. I deeply apologize to unions. ... It’s hard to make decisions from that place so all I can say is that I wanted to accept responsibility. ”
David Slack, a TV writer and former WGA West board member, thanked Ms. Barrymore for her decision.
“We said it wasn’t too late to do the right thing, and we meant it,” he wrote on social media. “Thank you [Ms. Barrymore] for standing with us.”
Actors walking the picket line at the Disney Studios in Burbank, California, Monday said they were surprised by the recent announcements to resume production.
Howard Chan, 52 and a member of SAG-AFTRA who started acting in 2009, questioned the decisions.
“I’m just wondering, what were they thinking when a strike is happening?” he told The Epoch Times. “I just can’t believe these two people with so much experience in show business don’t notice stuff like this.”
Raquel Horsford, a member of SAG-AFTRA and a dancer, said showing solidarity with the unions during the strike is more important than producing the talk shows.
“I was quite surprised because [Ms. Barrymore] has been in the entertainment business a long time,” Ms. Horsford told The Epoch Times. “Regardless if it was contractually or legally OK, I would have thought she would have thought about optics. Especially with her being Hollywood royalty. But I’m glad that she’s retracting it.”
She was also encouraged by news that the writers’ union would be returning to the negotiating table this week.
The WGA reached out to the studios Sept. 13 and asked for a meeting to resume negotiations, according to the AMPTP.
“We have agreed and are working to schedule a meeting next week. Every member company of the AMPTP is committed and eager to reach a fair deal, and to working together with the WGA to end the strike,” the alliance said in a statement provided to The Epoch Times.
Both sides have also agreed to a media blackout during negotiations.
“I think the last rally was very effective,” Ms. Horsford said. “People still have enthusiasm. If executives think that actors and writers and people that work their blood, sweat, and tears in this business are just going to roll over and cave in, they have another thing coming. Artists are kind of used to figuring out how to make it in slow times, so I think they’re underestimating this union, these guilds.”