As The View audience members formed a line along the show’s 66th Street entrance in Manhattan, a dozen Writers Guild of America members marched around ABC Studios holding signs of protest.
When Mikey Day, a Saturday Night Live cast member and former writer (as well as host of the hit Netflix series Is It Cake?), isn’t on the picket lines, he’s occupying his time playing The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and taking care of his 11-year-old. Day, who filmed the last SNL episode before the strike with host Ana de Armas and musical guest/recent Rolling Stone cover star Karol G, says there’s a weird feeling among cast members, especially since the 49th season was expected to debut in a few weeks.
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“It’s definitely a lot of, ‘How long do you think it’s going to last?’ and then theorizing about, well, you’d think maybe studios would want to salvage a fallen winter,” Day says.
With no end in sight to the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes against the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), daytime and late-night talk shows have had to decide to stand in solidarity with its striking members or push forward. The View, which continued airing new episodes following the start of the strike, premiered its 27th season on Sept. 5, without its two WGA writers. The decision across talk shows, whose on-air talent are covered by the Network Television Code, to resume filming has caused a stir among WGA-covered writers who write their material.
Live with Kelly and Mark and The View have remained in production throughout the strike, and The Talk has plans to return for a 14th season. Both The Jennifer Hudson Show and The Drew Barrymore Show plan to premiere Sept. 18, but not without controversy.
The Drew Barrymore Show has recently faced backlash for resuming production and kicking out two audience members who wore Writers Guild of America pins in the studio Monday. On Tuesday, its head writers spoke to Rolling Stone from the picket lines outside the studio, and the show’s guests had their WGA pins temporarily confiscated by security.
The daytime talk show is “a WGA-covered, struck show that is planning to return without its writers,” according to a WGA tweet, and, “Any writing on ‘The Drew Barrymore Show’ is in violation of WGA strike rules.” Barrymore was also booted from hosting The National Book Awards following her decision to resume production amid the strikes.
SAG-AFTRA issued a statement to Rolling Stone on Wednesday defending unionized actors like Barrymore and The View’s Whoopi Goldberg.
“Many of these shows are, like The Drew Barrymore Show, produced under the Network Television Code agreement which is a separate contract and is not struck,” wrote a SAG-AFTRA spokesperson in a statement. “Programs covered under the Network Television Code are permissible work and a member’s role as host on a covered show would not violate the current strike rules.” (This applies to the SAG-AFTRA strike and not the WGA strike, of course.)
Some unionized writers believe that the decision to resume production goes against the strike’s very purpose. Sean Crespo, a Writers Guild member since 2019, is one of them. He’s been attending three to five strikes a week and had to pick up a part-time computer installation job to make ends meet.
“These shows staying on the air is going to prolong the strike,” Crespo tells Rolling Stone. “It gives a little bit of extra wiggle room to the AMPTP and dilutes the message the guilds are out there trying to send, which is [that] there should be a full work stoppage until fair terms are negotiated.”
In May, Goldberg addressed The View audiences about the strike, calling it “very different than most other shows” as it is a primarily unscripted show. Sasha Stewart, a Writers Guild East council member, is in disbelief. Stewart calls it insulting that the number one daytime talk show made the decision to move forward without its writers.
“It’s incredibly frustrating to see our work and our labor devalued so much, and effectively hidden,” Stewart says. “I don’t know who they’re having do all the work, but somebody has to do it.”
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