It’s official: The Drew Barrymore Show is dead. And so is Real Time With Bill Maher. Or, at the very least, they are both cancelled for now.
In September of 2023, The Drew Barrymore Show and Real Time With Bill Maher declared that they’d return, despite the ongoing Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike. However, both shows were immediately criticised by the WGA, numerous Hollywood circles, and the wider public for their decisions.
Now, after some intense public backlash, these productions are walking back their decisions to cross the picket line and restart filming. These announcements have been praised by numerous people in the industry.
Crossing the Picket Line
The WGA is currently over 140 days into their strike, in which they are fighting for members to receive better rates and working conditions. Under the rules of this strike, TV shows that employ guild members cannot be produced until the strike has concluded. They are worried that if said television productions start up again, they’ll lose some of their negotiating leverage.
When The Drew Barrymore Show and Real Time With Bill Maher announced that they would be returning, the WGA was quick to respond.
In a social media statement, the WGA said, “The Drew Barrymore Show is a WGA covered, struck show that is planning to return.”
“The Guild has, and will continue to, picket struck shows that are in production during the strike. Any writing on The Drew Barrymore Show is in violation of WGA strike rules.”
The @DrewBarrymoreTV Show is a WGA covered, struck show that is planning to return without its writers. The Guild has, and will continue to, picket struck shows that are in production during the strike. Any writing on “The Drew Barrymore Show” is in violation of WGA strike rules.
— Writers Guild of America, East (@WGAEast) September 10, 2023
Did Drew Barrymore Get Cancelled?
Now, the WGA wasn’t the only entity that was upset with Barrymore and Maher. A plethora of people and other organisations roasted both Barrymore and Maher for crossing the picket lines.
Take for instance, the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend actor, Benjamin Siemon. When Barrymore announced her return to the screen, Siemon raised some serious concerns.
“Who is she going to interview? No actors can promote anything,” Siemon stated on X, formerly known as Twitter. “I like Drew Barrymore, but she’s making a mistake here. No one should do non-union writing for this show.”
Who is she going to interview? No actors can promote anything. I like Drew Barrymore but she’s making a mistake here. No one should do non-union writing for this show. https://t.co/LbJhmFPiBd
— @benjaminjs.bsky.social (@BenjaminJS) September 10, 2023
What’s more, this comment is one of the more considerate ones. After Maher announced his comeback, the political commentator Keith Olbermann went ballistic. He stated that if Maher’s show didn’t have any writers, each episode would be “83 seconds long”.
“As somebody who’s known you since 1978: F**k you Bill. You selfish and unfunny scumbag,” Olbermann stated.
Another notable consequence for Barrymore came from the National Book Foundation, which quickly cancelled her invite to host the 2023 National Book Awards.
“The National Book Award is an evening dedicated to celebrating the power of literature and the incomparable contributions of writers to our culture,” they said in a statement. “In light of the announcement that The Drew Barrymore Show will resume production, the National Book Foundation has rescinded Ms. Barrymore’s invitation to host the 74th National Book Awards Ceremony.”
An update on the host of the 2023 National Book Awards. pic.twitter.com/aa5aLh0FIU
— National Book Foundation (@nationalbook) September 12, 2023
Safe to say, things weren’t a vibe for Barrymore and Maher. Something had to change.
The Walkback of the Year
On September 18, Drew Barrymore announced that she had decided to put her daytime series on ice. In a statement, she also apologised for announcing its return in the first place.
“I have listened to everyone, and I am making the decision to pause the show’s premiere until the strike is over,” Barrymore said. “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.
“We really tried to find our way forward. And I truly hope for a resolution for the entire industry very soon.”
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Meanwhile, on September 19, Bill Maher released his own statement. Like The Drew Barrymore Show, Real Time With Bill Maher has been temporarily cancelled.
“My decision to return to work was made when it seemed nothing was happening and there was no end in sight to this strike,” Maher wrote on X. “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.”
My decision to return to work was made when it seemed nothing was happening and there was no end in sight to this strike. 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…
— Bill Maher (@billmaher) September 18, 2023
On Wednesday, September 20, negotiations between the WGA and the Hollywood studio system resumed. This meeting included several bigwig CEOs, including Bob Iger of Disney, Ted Sarandos of Netflix, David Zaslav of Warner Bros. As it stands, we don’t know how these negotiations went.
So, what happens now? Well, both The Drew Barrymore Show and Real Time With Bill Maher will stay cancelled and dead. Like the rest of the biz, they’ll be resurrected when this strike ends.
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