Members of the striking Writers Guild gathered outside the CBS Broadcast Center in New York early Monday morning to protest the restart of The Drew Barrymore Show and to discourage the daytime talk host and her guests from crossing their picket line.
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It didn’t work, entirely: In what played out like cat-and-mouse between picketers and the show, Barrymore slipped in undetected to tape a pair of episodes with in-studio audiences at 11 and 1 p.m., as did her guests. There had been suggestions that guests included Oprah Winfrey and Brooke Shields, but Deadline understands that is incorrect.
One audience member said the guests at the first taping were on-air regulars from CBS Mornings.
Two college students with tickets to the taping never got that far: They told Deadline they were kicked out when security officers spotted them wearing WGA strike buttons. “We even offered to take them off,” Cassidy Carter said as she stood outside CBS minutes after being evicted. Her friend, Dominic Turiczek, said a security officer told them, “We’ve already talked to somebody above us: You’re out.”
Carter said that she and Turiczek arrived having “no clue” that a strike is in progress and that the Guild is picketing Barrymore until they saw marchers and accepted lapel buttons to wear into the taping. Once inside, they signed filming waivers and were waiting to be seated when, according to Turiczek, they were “verbally assaulted” by security officers and led out.
Dominic Turiczek and Cassidy Carder, who were supposed to be audience members for ‘The Drew Barrymore Show,’ got kicked out of the taping due to supporting the #WritersStrike pic.twitter.com/xA3lABPfy3
— Deadline Hollywood (@DEADLINE) September 11, 2023
“It’s really cute that Drew Barrymore claims that she cares about her fans and wants her fans to show up for the show,” Turiczek said. “And then we get kicked out for supporting what is right.”
Added Carter, “I’m just really shocked, to be honest.”
Went to @DrewBarrymoreTV after winning tickets, unaware of the #WGA strike. We took pins & went in, got kicked out, & verbally assaulted by @DrewBarrymore’s crew. It’s clear they don’t support #WGAStrong, writers or fans! #DrewTheRightThing So we took shirts and joined. Fuck that pic.twitter.com/UuyCxAS491
— Dominic Turiczek (@dom_turiczek) September 11, 2023
A spokeswoman for The Drew Barrymore Show told Deadline, “It is our policy to welcome everyone to our show tapings. Due to heightened security concerns today, we regret that two audience members were not permitted to attend or were not allowed access. Drew was completely unaware of the incident and we are in the process of reaching out to the affected audience members to offer them new tickets.”
Earlier in the morning, picketers stationed at front, back and side entrances of the blocks-long CBS complex in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood kept a vigil for the host and her guests.
Shortly before 9 a.m., a black SUV with tinted windows and standard, city-issue car service license plates pulled into another garage bay around back, with security officers waving the vehicle in and about a dozen picketers watching. The garage door closed and chants of “What’s disgusting? Union busting” and “Hey Drew, hey Drew, we expect better from you” broke out. The SUV exited a few minutes later; it was unclear who the driver had delivered.
— Deadline Hollywood (@DEADLINE) September 11, 2023
The drill repeated about 20 minutes later, this time with a standard Yellow cab — windows also tinted — guided in by security officers. Again, picketers didn’t know who had just arrived. But about a minute after the cab pulled away, a group cheer erupted from inside the garage area, audible through the shuttered bay doors. Whoever it was being feted inside, it was “not a great look to duck in in a cab,” said one WGA strike captain.
WGA officers stressed that Barrymore’s isn’t the only talk show they’re picketing in New York: They’ve been marching periodically outside the Upper West Side studios of The View almost since the strike began in May. “We’re not targeting Drew; it’s about any show that’s continuing production during the strike,” a guild representative told Deadline.
Joining Monday’s picket was Cristina Kinon, one of the Barrymore show’s three staff writers — all on strike. “I came out today because I support my union, the Writers Guild, and I think we deserve a fair deal,” Kinon told Deadline. She said it’s “frustrating” to be on strike for five months, “but I am hopeful for a fair deal. And I think that we’ll get there because I know that what we’re asking for is fair.”
Asked how the show would manage without staff writers, as Barrymore has promised to do, Kinon said: “I have no idea. That’s up to them to do.”
“It’s not personal,” Kinon said of the Barrymore team’s decision to return to work. “Everybody’s doing what they need to do. They’re going on with the show, and we are picketing.”
In an Instagram post Sunday, Barrymore, whose services as host fall under a different SAG-AFTRA contract that is still ongoing, explained why she chose to return for a new season of her talk show amid the two strikes. The so-called Network Television Code covers SAG-AFTRA members’ services on daytime, late-night and game shows and some primetime specials.
At around 12:30 p.m., several dozen people who had attended the first taping streamed out of the building. “It was great,” Terry Guthrie, a retired parent-teacher coordinator with New York City public schools, told Deadline.
But she also had misgivings. “I belong to a union, so I felt like I was crossing a line,” Guthrie said. “But I also drove three hours to be here.”
Guthrie said that “70 percent” of the first taping was Barrymore chatting spontaneously with her CBS Mornings guests. Barrymore did not discuss the strike, Guthrie and other departing audience members said.
Picketers were still outside when the first audience left, and said they expected to be back at CBS on Tuesday.
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