Drew Barrymore found herself in controversy on September10, 2023 when she decided to move forward with bringing back her daytime talk show The Drew Barrymore Show despite the ongoing Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike which had begun in May of the same year, and the SAG – AFTRA strike which had also begun in July. She apologized for her decision to move forward and explained her “why” behind it. Some of the apology by Barrymore included lines that emphasized, “I believe there is nothing I can say or do in this moment to make it ok” and “So all I can say is that I wanted to accept responsibility and no I don’t have a PR machine behind this.” How is this associated with Barrymore’s show and why was it considered controversial? Barrymore’s show, previous to the strike, employed writers who were associated with the WGA. Due to its association to the Guild, if any writing were to have occurred during the production of the show. Her choice would violate the rules of the WGA strike because the show would be utilizing personnel in the same capacity as those writer’s who went on strike, whether that be in a capacity of writing for jokes, interviews, or monologues. The Drew Barrymore Show was not in violation of the SAG-AFTRA rules by deciding to resume the show because the show was covered by another contract that was not part of the strike. Her decision to move forward with the show, despite the strike, caused backlash with WGA members picketing outside her production studio in New York and by publicly being critical of her decision. Fans, too, were harsh with criticism saying she was “out of touch and disloyal.” On September 17th, she chose to delay the return of the show until the end of the writer’s strike. This too, however, was short-lived as the show made its comeback on October 16 after the writer’s strike had seemingly ended and Drew could take the helm again as host.
Key Apologia Strategies:
Mortification, Bolstering, Good Intentions
I believe there is nothing I can do or say in this moment to make it ok. 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 is just nothing I can do that will make this ok for those it is not ok with. I fully accept that; 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, its not who I am. I have been through so many ups and down in my life, and this is one of them.
I deeply apologize to writers. I deeply apologize to unions. I deeply apologize.
I don’t exactly know what to say because sometimes when things are so tough, it’s hard to make decisions from that place. So, all I can say is that I wanted to accept responsibility and no I don’t have a PR machine behind this.
My decision to go back to the show, I didn’t want to hide behind people, so I won’t. And I won’t polish this with bells and whistles and publicists and corporate rhetoric. I will just stand out there and accept and be responsible.
There is a huge question of the why? Why am I doing this? Well, I certainly couldn’t have expected this kind of attention. And we aren’t gonna break rules and we will be in compliance. I wanted to do this because, as I said this is bigger than me, and there are other people’s jobs on the line. And since launching “Live” in a pandemic I just wanted to make a show that was there for people in sensitive times. And I weighed the scales, and I thought if we could go on during a global pandemic and everything that the world has experienced though 2020, why would this sideline us? So, I want to just put one foot in front of the other and make a show that is there for people regardless of anything else that is happening in the world because that is when I think we all need something that wants to be there being very realistic in very realistic times. So that is my why.
Abad-Santos, A. (2023, September 19). Drew Barrymore tried to live, laugh, scab her way across the picket line. It didn’t work. The Vox. https://www.vox.com/culture/2023/9/19/23880858/drew-barrymore-show-writers-strike-backlash-apology
Nicolaou, E. (2023, September 18). What Drew Barrymore’s show controversy says about celebrity apologies, according to PR pros. Today. https://www.today.com/popculture/drew-barrymore-talk-show-return-apology-pr-analysis-rcna105567
Parkel, I., & Lewis, I. (2023, September 17). Drew Barrymore deletes tearful video apologising for resuming talk show amid writers’ strike. https://ca.news.yahoo.com/drew-barrymore-deletes-tearful-video-124627269.html