Drew Barrymore is far from the only talk show host returning to air amid the Hollywood strikes, but in the span of a week, she has become perhaps the most high-profile target for criticism over the decision.
On Friday, she doubled down, posting an emotional video on Instagram in which she apologized to striking writers, some of whom have picketed outside the studio where “The Drew Barrymore Show” picked up filming in New York City this past week, and signaled that she had no intention of a reversal, at least right now.
“My decision to go back to the show — I didn’t want to hide behind people, so I won’t,” Barrymore said in the video. “And 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.”
To begin filming the fourth season of her show amid the strike by the Writers Guild of America, the program has returned to production, without its three unionized writers, and with a promise that the new episodes — the first of which is set to air on Monday — will not include written material that violates the rules of the strike. Other daytime talk shows with unionized writers on staff, including the “The View,” which began airing new episodes earlier this month, have taken a similar approach. “The Jennifer Hudson Show” and “The Talk” are among the shows that are also planning returns.
“I wanted to do this because, as I said, this is bigger than me,” Barrymore said in her video, “and there are other people’s jobs on the line. And since launching live in a pandemic, I just wanted to make a show that was there for people in sensitive times.”
She went on: “I weighed the scales and I thought, if we could go on during a global pandemic, and everything that the world has experienced through 2020, why would this sideline us?”
Some of the criticism of Barrymore referenced her earlier decision to drop out as host of the MTV Movie and TV Awards in May, expressing solidarity with the striking writers.
The actress’s apologetic, almost anguished explanation stood in contrast to that of Bill Maher, who announced this week that his weekly HBO show would return to the air, stating plainly, “It has been five months, and it is time to bring people back to work.”
As backlash to Barrymore’s decision grew in recent days, the National Book Foundation dropped the actress as the host of its National Book Awards ceremony in November, after several high-profile writers were among the critics of her decision to return to air.
“I want to just put one foot in front of the other,” Barrymore said in the video on Friday, “and make a show that’s there for people regardless of anything else that’s happening in the world.”