This is Day 141 of the WGA strike and Day 68 of the SAG-AFTRA strike.
In the wake of two prominent talk show hosts reversing course on a return to work, striking writers in New York City have stepped up their picketing against a high-profile holdout: ABC’s The View.
About 50 demonstrators showed up Tuesday outside the ABC television studio complex on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and urged arriving ABC employees not to cross the picket line.
It was the second straight day of what Writers Guild officials called a renewed campaign against The View after Drew Barrymore and Bill Maher abandoned efforts to restart their shows without their unionized writers aboard. People filing into ABC offices on Tuesday were greeted with chants of “The View is a struck show/Don’t cross the picket line” and “Hey, View, be like Drew/Shut it down.”
The long-running daytime talk fest has aired without interruption — and drawn protests — since the writers strike began in May, and moderator Whoopi Goldberg told viewers that “we’re still writing things on cards.” The show wrapped its 26th season in August and launched its 27th on September 5 with Goldberg and returning panelists Joy Behar, Ana Navarro, Alyssa Farah Griffin and Sunny Hostin.
But the picketing of The View has now gone from a single formation outside the main entrance to a version of the scene that played out last week at CBS Broadcast Center in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, where The Drew Barrymore Show briefly resumed taping. Bands of picketers circled multiple entrances that day in an effort to discourage entry.
“They’re trying to find any way they can to get in and hide from picketers,” a Writers Guild representative told Deadline on Tuesday, referring to people working on The View. “They’re scared of picketers because they know they’re wrong.”
The View aired on Monday and Tuesday as planned with regular panelists and announced guests, a representative for ABC told Deadline, adding that the show always has been largely unscripted but is doing without the services of its two WGA-represented staff writers while the strike continues. (Goldberg said in May that audiences would be getting a less “slicked up” version of the show.)
Guild members said that still counts as an act of defiance.
“They are an employer of WGA writers,” Monarch showrunner Melissa London Hilfers told Deadline, calling it “a huge slap in the face of labor that they are on the air.”
“At this point, Drew Barrymore and even Bill Maher have done the right thing and are not on the air,” Hilfers said, “and the fact that Whoopi and Joy can’t do the same thing is really disappointing. It hurts the entire cause. They know what it is to have writers and the value of the work that they do, and being on the air really devalues them.”
Some striking writers expressed amazement that Maher changed his mind given his criticism of “kooky” WGA contract demands in the lead-up to his announcement that Real Time with Bill Maher would return to HBO this fall “sans writers and writing” during the strike.
Maher, unlike Barrymore, never got as far as taping new episodes before he backed down, and tweeted on Monday that he would “delay the return of Real Time, for now,” since the Guild and the AMPTP are again resuming talks this week.
Striking writers and actors had plenty of opinions on Tuesday about Maher’s reversal, though none wanted to volunteer them for attribution. They ranged from Maher being cowed by the backlash against Barrymore to Maher concluding that the industry will be better off without a divisive internal fight between him and the unions.
“We’re all just so surprised that it happened, but also the message that he gave was so very Bill Maher,” actor and writer Moujan Zolfaghari told Deadline on Tuesday at a SAG-AFTRA rally outside the New York City offices of HBO’s parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery.
A SAG-AFTRA strike captain, Olivia Killingsworth, wrapped up that rally with a nod to the WGA. “We’re out here on the line until they get a fair contract,” Killingsworth said, “and until we get a fair contract.”