WGAW President Meredith Stiehm says one difference in the backlash and anger over the return of talk show hosts like Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Hudson and Bill Maher is that only one of them is a member of the Writers Guild.
During a brief interview on Thursday for CNN’s Starring Jake TapperStiehm addressed the criticism several Hollywood hosts faced when they announced plans to resume production on WGA-covered shows nearly 140 days after the ongoing strike began.
For the WGA boss, the backlash and accusations of the strike attack are different from people like Maher and SAG-AFTRA member Barrymore, who issued another equally criticized statement Friday about her decision to keep her self-titled daytime talk show back on the air despite the AMPTP and WGA doesn’t have a new contract yet.
“There is a difference between Bill Maher and the others because he is a member of the Writers Guild. I believe the others are SAG members and may have an exemption from doing the shows. I’m not sure. But he’s a member of the Writers Guild and he’s going back to work, so yeah, a lot of people say it’s scabs,” she said. “There’s definitely some anger that he’s doing this.”
Stiehm reiterated a point in response to some hosts’ decision to resume despite ongoing work stoppages, after hosts like Maher and Barrymore again today pointed out that they want to get their low-paid crew members back to work despite other shows having their workers sidelined.
“There are other show promoters who take care of their shows by paying for them themselves,” she told Tapper. “We are all concerned about our crews and the aftermath the work stoppage has caused.”
On Wednesday, Maher announced via X (the platform formerly known as Twitter) that his show Real time would come back “without a writer or writing.”
“It’s been five months and it’s time to get people back to work. The authors have important issues that I sympathize with and hope are resolved to their satisfaction, but they are not the only people with issues, problems and concerns,” he wrote. “I’m not willing to lose a whole year and see how many bottom line people suffer so much.”
Maher added that when the show returns, he plans to “honor the spirit of the strike by not delivering a monologue” and not using other script elements such as the “New Rules” section.
Within the last week, Maher, Barrymore, The Jennifer Hudson Show And The conversationall of which are WGA-covered shows, have announced that they will begin production again despite the work stoppage that began on May 2nd. The Drew Barrymore Show And The conversation have already been met with pickets, with pickets for The Jennifer Hudson Show expected.
In an earlier statement on Maher’s announcement, the WGA said: Real time The host’s “decision to return to air during his guild’s strike is disappointing.”
“If he implements his plan, he must respect more than just the spirit of the strike,” it added. “As a WGA member, Bill Maher is obligated to follow strike rules and not provide typing services. It’s hard to imagine how Real time can continue without violating WGA strike rules. WGA will demo this show.”