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Drew Barrymore defends decision to resume talk show amid writers' strike: 'This is bigger than me'

An emotional Drew Barrymore addressed the backlash surrounding her decision to resume her daytime talk show amid the writers' and actors' strikes, saying she'll continue to take "full responsibility" for it.

"There's nothing I can do or say in this moment to make it okay," Barrymore said in a since-deleted video shared to her Instagram Friday morning "I wanted to own a decision so that it wasn't a PR-protected situation and I would just take full responsibility for my actions. I know there's nothing I can do to make this okay for those it is not okay with. I fully accept that."

She continued, "I fully understand that 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. That's not who I am. I've been through so many ups and downs in my life — and this is one of them."

Drew Barrymore poses backstage on THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON Monday, September 12, 2022
Drew Barrymore poses backstage on THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON Monday, September 12, 2022

Todd Owyoung/NBC via Getty Images Drew Barrymore

Barrymore offered a deep apology to writers and unions, explaining that "when things are so tough, it's hard to make decisions from that place."

"All I can say is that I wanted to accept responsibility," she added. "My decision to go back to the show… I didn't wanna hide behind people, so I won't. And I won't polish this with bells and whistles and publicists and corporate rhetoric — I'll just stand out there and be responsible."

As for why she made the choice to move forward with a new season of the show, she said, "This is bigger than me and there other peoples' jobs on the line."

"I certainly couldn't have expected this type of attention," she said, reiterating her previous talking points about how the show will be in compliance with strike rules, including not discussing actors' and writers' struck work. "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? I just wanted 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."

Barrymore deleted the Instagram post on Friday evening, but recordings of it were preserved on social media.

The host confirmed reports earlier this week that her eponymous daytime talk show would return for a fourth season on CBS amid the joint WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, with a spokesperson for the network previously telling EW that it would not be executing any writing work covered by the WGA strike. "I own this choice," Barrymore said at the time, stating that the return would remain in compliance with the strikes.

In a new statement to EW, a CBS spokesperson wrote: "As The Drew Barrymore Show returns with original episodes on Monday we are very mindful and sensitive to the complex circumstances surrounding the show's return and we will be in full compliance with all our labor agreements and any strike rules. Our host works under a separate agreement with SAG-AFTRA ("The Network Code") that allows Drew and other daytime hosts to continue hosting the show. While our show has been largely an unscripted talk show from the beginning, the new shows we are producing this season will be completely unscripted until the strike ends. No one on our staff will fill a writing position. If you watch the show, it is obvious that Drew has always brought raw, unfiltered, spontaneous, open and honest conversations to her viewers and that will continue. The show also moves forward with important consideration to our staff and crew comprised of over 150 people, as well as our loyal viewers. We fully support Drew and her entire team 100%."

Though Barrymore is a member of SAG-AFTRA, daytime talk shows — as well as reality TV, sports, morning news shows, soap operas, and game shows — fall under the Network Television Code contract, which is not the same as the Television/Theatrical/Streaming contracts that expired after the union and the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers (AMPTP) failed to reach a deal. Although the show is not in direct violation of the strikes, WGA-East maintained that it is very much a struck show planning to return without its writers, prompting picketers to assemble outside its studio.

A number of talk shows have continued to air amid the strikes, including The View, which returned for its 27th season last week without its writers. The backlash against Barrymore, however, has been more intense since it stands in stark contrast to her decision to step down as the host of the MTV Movie & TV Awards in May in solidarity with striking writers.

The WGA began their strike in early May, with SAG-AFTRA following suit in July. The guilds are seeking fair wages, protection against artificial intelligence disrupting writing practices, more transparent streaming data, better residuals, and more. Most of the WGA's proposals have been swiftly rejected by the AMPTP, the body representing Hollywood's major studios and streaming services.

The Drew Barrymore Show returns Monday, Sept. 18. Check local listings.

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