The daytime talk shows sidelined by the Writers Guild of America strike are making moves to resume production now that a tentative agreement has been reached between the writers and the AMPTP.
Of the enterprises impacted by their WGA ties — The Talk, The Drew Barrymore Show, The Jennifer Hudson Show and The Kelly Clarkson Show — sources indicate that all are looking into October returns. Barrymore being back on air will likely be the most notable. The host and veteran actress was the target of unprecedented flack over the past few weeks when she announced plans to return to work and then quickly shifted gears in one of multiple apologies.
One benefit to the false starts for these shows — The Talk and The Jennifer Hudson Show had also planned September premieres before nixing their start dates — is that they had all resumed the production machine after the hiatus. With that in mind, it’s considered likely that some will be back on the air before the late-night shows. Those, including hours fronted by Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel and Seth Meyers, have been dark for so long that writers and crew may justifiably need a longer runway before tapings resume.
Of course, neither the daytime nor the late-night landscape will be back to business as usual until both the WGA and the SAG-AFTRA strikes are resolved. These shows can proceed with a new writers contract, but actors remained barred from all promotion (i.e.: talk shows’ bread and butter) until their own deal is made. There is at least some president for how that will look. Daytime shows, including Live With Kelly and Mark, doesn’t employ WGA writers and has already been back on the air. Sherri Shepherd’s Sherri, in a similar boat, was set to come back until the star tested positive for COVID.
In late-night, Bravo’s WGA-free Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen has been the lone late-night talker of note to air original episodes since May — leaning on its network’s deep bench of reality stars and Cohen’s famous friends for guests.
Talk shows, particularly those in daytime, aren’t often the object of much attention. But that shifted quickly in recent weeks when a few stepped out with plans to return early. Barrymore’s backlash was swift and dominated the strike news cycle for days. The same went for Bill Maher, HBO’s late-night gadfly (and a WGA member). After making critical comments about the strike during an early September episode of his podcast, including calling the guild’s demands “kooky,” he announced plans to return to the air without his WGA staffers. He also capitulated, though for different reasons, citing the renewed talks between the guild and studio as reason for optimism. “Now that both sides have agreed to go back to the negotiating table I’m going to delay the return of Real Time, for now, and hope they can finally get this done,” he wrote on X.
Though the anticipated end of the strike has been greeted with relief and glee across the entertainment industry, the early return of talk shows will be of particularly well-received by their linear platforms. As streamers have been able to strategically release banked content during the five-month labor stoppage, broadcast networks and their local affiliates have suffered by a more immediate drop in original content.
Other live and live-ish shows will be on the air even sooner. In light of the tentative agreement, Dancing With the Stars (a reality show long covered by WGA) will return on Sept. 26 as originally planned after a considered delay. ABC announced the news earlier on Monday.