Social Media Has Already Won the Strike

Drew Barrymore
Drew Barrymore was never going to get away with bringing her show back. Photo by John Lamparski/Getty
Matthew Belloni
September 17, 2023

I know Drew Barrymore has an experienced publicist, Stephen Huvane, and that both the CAA and CBS braintrusts are advising her. But here’s a free statement that she could have put out instead of the bizarre hostage videos that turned her into perhaps the most high-profile villain of the strike, going from “I own this choice” to “I have no words to express my deepest apologies” in less than a week:

“My talk show is syndicated to 200 stations. Like all the syndicated shows that are returning, we are contractually obligated to deliver new episodes or the stations can drop us. I support the WGA and SAG-AFTRA and hope they achieve a fair deal. I’m also sensitive to the 150 employees who depend on this show for their basic needs. Oprah and Ellen faced this decision in 2007 and they made the same choice.”

I don’t know if that would have ultimately made a difference, but the initial Barrymore video could not have been more ill-conceived. (When I first saw it, I thought it was Chloe Fineman doing Drew Barrymore.) She explained almost nothing about the business issues or any dilemma she faced—after all, The Jennifer Hudson Show, The Talk, and others with WGA writers were also planning to return—and expressed no real sympathy for the striking writers and actors. Instead, she put the privileged face of Hollywood royalty out there for social media to dissect and ridicule—and for the Writers Guild to weaponize against her. Which it did, relentlessly, both behind the scenes and, importantly, through its 11,000 members, many of whom are active online and—shocker—are very effective communicators. The funny memes, the vitriolic shaming, the peer pressure—and from actors too, even though SAG-AFTRA has an active agreement with the talk shows.