As the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) and SAG-AFTRA strikes continue to roil the entertainment industry, the decision of several daytime talk shows to return to production without their writers has sparked a flurry of debates and discussions. Drew Barrymore was among the first to announce the resumption of her talk show under these conditions, and now, others are following suit.
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“The Jennifer Hudson Show” is set to resume production this week, with its Season 2 premiere scheduled for September 18th. Sources suggest that the show will start without its WGA-affiliated writers but intends to bring them back once a new contract is negotiated. While a spokesperson for the show declined to comment, the move has raised eyebrows and added to the ongoing turmoil.
Another talk show eyeing a September 18th return is CBS’ “The Talk.” However, the lineup of co-hosts returning to the show remains uncertain. Jerry O’Connell, in particular, has been actively participating in the strikes, posting photos of himself on picket lines. “The Talk” had suspended production back in May when the strikes began and has since undergone a change in leadership, with Rob Crabbe taking over as showrunner.
Meanwhile, “The Kelly Clarkson Show” is preparing for its upcoming fifth season but has yet to commence filming, with no writers currently working. The show, which moved to New York for its new season, has not set a premiere date. Notably, when the writers’ strike initially began in May, Clarkson personally paid the show’s staff for the days they were scheduled to work on Season 4, showcasing her commitment to her team.
Drew Barrymore’s decision to relaunch her talk show amid the strikes has drawn both criticism and support. The WGA condemned her choice, while SAG-AFTRA defended her. As production began, protesters gathered outside her show’s studio, underscoring the divisive nature of her decision. Barrymore later released a statement, assuring that her show would adhere to WGA and SAG-AFTRA strike rules, and she emphasized that her show had been created to function during sensitive times, such as the ongoing pandemic.
In contrast, some talk shows like “Live! With Kelly and Mark” and “Tamron Hall” are not WGA-affiliated and have continued production without disruption. “The View,” produced under ABC’s news division, returned earlier this month after its regularly-scheduled summer hiatus. While it has two WGA writers, they have stepped away from work since the strike began, and the hosts have openly discussed the strikes on-air.
Sherri Shepherd’s show, “Sherri,” which returns on September 18th, has never had any writers and is not covered by the WGA, as it operates under the Network Code.
It’s important to note that many daytime talk show hosts, including Barrymore, Jennifer Hudson, Shepherd, and “The View’s” Whoopi Goldberg, are members of SAG-AFTRA but are not in violation of strike rules because their work as talk show hosts falls under a different contract than the one in dispute. SAG-AFTRA defended Barrymore, emphasizing that her role as a host does not violate the current strike rules.
Regardless of whether a talk show is directly affected by the WGA strike, all returning shows this fall face the challenge of handling celebrity guests amid the ongoing strikes. Actors appearing as guests will be required to adhere to SAG-AFTRA strike rules, which prohibit the discussion or promotion of any struck projects. As a result, many actors and writers may opt to abstain from appearing altogether to show solidarity with their union. The strikes continue to reshape the landscape of the entertainment industry, and the dynamics of talk shows are no exception.