The Drew Barrymore Show is once again readying its return — though a trio of WGA writers have chosen not to return to their old gig.
Barrymore found herself in hot water last month when she announced that her daytime talk show would make its fourth-season debut without its striking writers. A week later, after Barrymore faced backlash and at least a few panicked guest cancellations, she revealed that she’d be reversing course, pausing the show‘s return until the WGA strike concluded.
But with the WGA strike now over, the show is set to come back Oct. 16, and those writers — Chelsea White, Cristina Kinon and Liz Koe — have declined an offer to return with it, according to sources. The production is now interviewing new writers and will be in compliance with the guild.
As for White, Kinon and Koe, all three were visible and vocal in their protest during the show’s initial return to production in mid-September. The trio of women, who shared the title co-head writer and have been with the series since season one, could be seen picketing outside of Drew’s Manhattan studio on multiple days, with signs that read, “Honk if you [love] union labor” or “Drew’s News: Strikes.”
On Sept. 11, which was the show’s first day back in production, they told THR that they’d found out Drew was returning, not from their boss or colleagues, but rather via audience ticket giveaways that had been posted on social media. “It is a bummer to hear that the show is going back because it sends a message that union writers are not valuable,” White told THR that morning. Kinon added: “I understand that everybody has to do what they feel is best for them. 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.”
Asked at that time whether they planned to return to the show once the strike was resolved, White simply said: “Maybe no comment.”
While controversial, Barrymore’s initial decision to return without her writing staff did not violate SAG-AFTRA rules. As a SAG-AFTRA rep stated at the time, “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.” Nevertheless, Barrymore preemptively defended the decision to bring her show back in a now infamous Sept. 10 social media post, which quickly made her a target.
“I own this choice,” she wrote at the time, reminding her legions of fans that she had made a very different choice back in May, when she bowed out of her hosting duties at the MTV Movie and TV Awards in solidarity with the WGA. Barrymore ended up winning best host that evening, for which she submitted a prerecorded acceptance speech in which she name-checked White, Kinon and Koe, whom she called “our amazing, amazing writers.” She added, “This is definitely for them and every single person who makes this show.” (The three have also earned two Emmy nominations for their writing contributions to the show.)
After mounting blowback, however, Barrymore updated fans on Sept. 17. “I have listened to everyone, and I am making the decision to pause the show’s premiere until the strike is over,” she wrote, adding: “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.”