Commentary: Drew Barrymore spent years building her brand. Without writers, it unraveled in a week

Meredith Blake, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

A good writer can come in handy in the middle of a crisis.

Just ask Drew Barrymore.

In her own cheerfully chaotic way, the former child star-turned-quirky daytime host has shown the power of a carefully crafted celebrity narrative — and the ease with which even the most convincing comeback story can fall apart.

On Sunday, after a week of mounting backlash over her decision to go back into production on her daytime talk show, which employs members of the Writers Guild of America who are currently on strike, Barrymore issued the latest in a series of statements on Instagram.

This time, as if to acknowledge the damage the preceding days had caused her reputation, she announced that “The Drew Barrymore Show” would “pause the show’s premiere” until after the strike is over. (CBS Media Ventures, which produces the show, confirmed that it would also halt production. On Sunday, CBS also announced postponement of Season 14 of “The Talk” amid mounting scrutiny over daytime talk shows returning during the writers’ and actors’ strikes.)

“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,” Barrymore wrote. “We really tried to find our way forward. And I truly hope for a resolution for the entire industry very soon.”


That “way forward” was, to say the least, a winding one — a week from PR hell that began Sept. 10, when she announced that she was resuming production on her daytime talk show amid the ongoing strike by the WGA.

“I want to be there to provide what writers do so well, which is a way to bring us together or help us make sense of the human experience,” she wrote in the initial post, which has since been deleted. “I hope for a resolve for everyone as soon as possible. We have navigated difficult times since we first came on air. And so I take a step forward to start season 4 once again with an astute humility.”

The statement, with awkward and so-very-Drew phrases like “an astute humility,” demonstrated the value of professional writers.

It also prompted a swift and ferocious backlash against a freakishly resilient star who endured so much scrutiny during her turbulent childhood and rebellious adolescence that, as an adult, she has largely floated above criticism, seeming almost immune to damaging scandal.


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