Talk Shows Back Off Plans to Restart During Hollywood Writer Strike

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Talk Shows Back Off Plans to Restart During Hollywood Writer Strike

Hollywood actors and writers picketed outside of Disney Studio as strikes continued in Burbank, Calif., on Sept. 18, 2023. The Writers Guild of America expects to return to contract negotiations Wednesday with major studios and streaming services. (Jill McLaughlin/The Epoch Times)

Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

9/18/2023

Updated: 12/30/2023

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.”
“My decision to return to work was made when it seemed nothing was happening and there was no end in sight to this strike,” he wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “Now that both sides have agreed to go back to the negotiating table, I’m going to delay the return of Real Time, for now, and hope they can finally get this done.”
Four days earlier, Mr. Maher announced he was bringing “Real Time” back but without writers or writing. Five months has passed, and despite sympathizing with the writers on strike, “it is time to bring people back to work,” he said on X.
“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.
Hollywood actors and writers picketed outside major studios again this week as strikes continued in Burbank, Calif., on Sept. 18, 2023. The Writers Guild of America expects to return to contract negotiations Wednesday with major studios and streaming services. (Jill McLaughlin/The Epoch Times)

Hollywood actors and writers picketed outside major studios again this week as strikes continued in Burbank, Calif., on Sept. 18, 2023. The Writers Guild of America expects to return to contract negotiations Wednesday with major studios and streaming services. (Jill McLaughlin/The Epoch Times)

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.”
She also posted a tearful video on social media apologizing for her earlier decision.
“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. ”
Actress Drew Barrymore attends Netflix's "Santa Clarita Diet" Season 2 Premiere at the Dome at Arclight in Los Angeles, California on March 22. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Actress Drew Barrymore attends Netflix's "Santa Clarita Diet" Season 2 Premiere at the Dome at Arclight in Los Angeles, California on March 22. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

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.”
Meanwhile, the show will air repeats, and episodes that were taped last week will not air, according to the entertainment industry magazine Variety.
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.
Master of ceremonies Bill Maher speaks onstage during the 6th Annual Sean Penn & Friends HAITI RISING Gala Benefiting J/P Haitian Relief Organization at Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Jan. 7, 2017. (Michael Kovac/Getty Images for J/P Haitian Relief Organization)

Master of ceremonies Bill Maher speaks onstage during the 6th Annual Sean Penn & Friends HAITI RISING Gala Benefiting J/P Haitian Relief Organization at Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Jan. 7, 2017. (Michael Kovac/Getty Images for J/P Haitian Relief Organization)

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.
The unions held a rally Aug. 22, vowing to continue their fight for fair pay, artificial intelligence regulations, and other demands.
The WGA strike started May 2, followed by SAG-AFTRA, which began its walkout July 14. This is the first double strike in Hollywood in 60 years.
“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.”
Hollywood actors and writers picketed outside of Disney Studio as strikes continued in Burbank, Calif., on Sept. 18, 2023. The Writers Guild of America expects to return to contract negotiations Wednesday with major studios and streaming services. (Jill McLaughlin/The Epoch Times)

Hollywood actors and writers picketed outside of Disney Studio as strikes continued in Burbank, Calif., on Sept. 18, 2023. The Writers Guild of America expects to return to contract negotiations Wednesday with major studios and streaming services. (Jill McLaughlin/The Epoch Times)

Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

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Jill McLaughlin is an award-winning journalist covering politics, environment, and statewide issues. She has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Oregon, Nevada, and New Mexico. Jill was born in Yosemite National Park and enjoys the majestic outdoors, traveling, golfing, and hiking.

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