Here’s why ‘Sherri’ and ‘Tamron Hall’ can return to TV without getting slammed by the WGA

Some daytime talk shows including "The Talk" and "The Drew Barrymore Show" face major backlash amid ongoing strikes.

The WGA/SAG-AFTRA strike continues to have Hollywood in a chokehold more than four months after The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) and unions failed to reach an agreement. With fall TV underway, several daytime talk shows have announced their returns, with some such as “The Drew Barrymore Show” and “The Talk” sparking backlash and others like “Sherri” and “Tamron Hall” continuing with no drama outside their studios. 

If you’re wondering why everyone’s so mad at the little girl from “E.T.,” it’s because earlier this week, Barrymore announced her daily talk show would return to television for its fourth season amid the strike in a lengthy social post. 

“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. 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 announcement was met with major backlash and the #DrewTheRightThing hashtag emerged, full of comments from people urging the actress to reconsider and others outright bashing her as a “scab” among other things. She was also dropped as the host of The National Book Awards as a result of her decision. The WGA-East shared its stance on social media:

 “The [Drew Barrymore Show] is a WGA covered, struck show that is planning to return without its writers. The Guild has, and will continue to, picket struck shows that are in production during the strike. Any writing on ‘The Drew Barrymore Show’ is in violation of WGA strike rules.”

Since then, picket lines have formed outside the show’s studio and shows like “The Talk,” “The View,” and “The Jennifer Hudson Show” were also bashed for announcing their plans to return without the WGA writers they usually employ. These shows went dark when the strike was launched back in May and plan to proceed until the strike is over.

The major difference is this: the WGA is not picketing “Tamron Hall” or “Sherri” because the shows are not struck work. Executives at “Sherri” confirm that the show does not and never has employed WGA writers. 

Why? Because, unlike some of her counterparts, Shepherd is a seasoned stand-up comic who has mastered the art of thinking on her feet and concocting her own material. She doesn’t rely on scripts written by others as someone like Barrymore, who has made her career as an actress, does. 

Similarly, Tamron Hall is a journalist, and her skill set lends itself to being original. It’s all part of her brand and her talent and the major reason why the WGA has no issue with the show proceeding. These women are uniquely suited to continue without disruption.

Still, both Sherri and Tamron will have to continue to book talent like actors or writers who aren’t allowed to promote any of their screen work; past, present, or future. That means, for example, Issa Rae could appear on ‘Sherri’ to promote her hair care line or a new coffee shop she’s opening in Inglewood, but not about the second season of “Rap Sh*t,” an HBO series she executive produced. 

Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Hudson, and Sherri Shepherd are also actors and SAG-AFTRA members who appear in TV and film, but their work as hosts of a daytime talk show are not covered under the same SAG-AFTRA contracts. These deals are covered by the Network Television Code contract, which is not the same as the Television/Streaming/Theatrical contracts that expired and prompted the strikes. That’s why news shows, reality TV shows, soap operas, and game shows aren’t struck.

On Sept. 1, Shepherd, an Emmy-winning host and SAG-award-nominated actress, showed her support for the SAG-AFTRA strikes when she picketed with Viola Davis and Niecy Nash in Los Angeles and shared photos and video on Instagram.

“My @sagaftra residuals have paid for healthcare & therapy to care for my son who is on The Autism Spectrum. When Jeffrey was born prematurely at 5 mos, it was hundreds of thousands of dollars taken care of by #SagAftra … I have worked as an #actress most of my life and thankful for the blessings of work but there were many years I did not book an audition and my residuals from previous projects kept the lights on. Actors & writers are now fighting against a corporate regime who literallly wishes us to be replaced by AI. They refuse to negotiate in good faith & want to see us broken and not be paid fair wages for our hard work. This is unacceptable. And this is what my fellow @wga colleagues and actors are fighting for,” she posted.

“Sherri” premieres its second season with a sit-down interview with Wayne Brady, who recently came out as pansexual. Other guests this season include Keke Palmer, Michelle Buteau, and Nicole Ari Parker.

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