As heightened scrutiny around daytime talk shows’ proposed returns during the WGA and SAG-AFTRA double strike brings “The Drew Barrymore Show,” “The Jennifer Hudson Show,” “Real Time With Bill Maher” and others to a halt, Sherri Shepherd defended her series’s Season 2 return on Monday, emphasizing, “We have never employed WGA writers, so us coming back to work is not crossing the picket line.”
The talk show host explained that as a comedian, she has always been the sole writer of “Sherri,” paired with assists from producers “who help me shape my words, which is why we don’t have WGA writers here.”
Shepherd also explained that while she has marched in support of both strikes and is herself a member of SAG-AFTRA, talk shows “fall under a different union contract code, so we’re allowed to come back — unless you’re a WGA show.”
The season premiere segment then centered on what the dual strikes are fighting for as the WGA enters its fifth month picketing against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. From fair-wage residuals in the age of streaming to generative AI’s impact on Hollywood laborers, Shepherd personalized the importance of new contracts for writers and actors by sharing how residuals have helped her cover emergency hospital bills and how AI is “not going to replace all of this sass. You cannot do it.”
“My heart is breaking for all of the people that cannot work right now, and I hope our industry can get this strike resolved soon,” she said.
On Thursday, the AMPTP said in a statement that WGA leadership and the studios had agreed to resume negotiations this week, which the WGA confirmed Monday in its own release stating that they have scheduled to resume on Wednesday.
“We have agreed and are working to schedule a meeting next week. Every member company of the AMPTP is committed and eager to reach a fair deal, and to working together with the WGA to end the strike,” the AMPTP said. “The WGA and AMPTP are in the process of scheduling a time to get back in the room.”
Read a full transcript of Shepherd’s “Sherri” segment on the strikes below:
“This summer you all may have seen your favorite actors and Hollywood stars have been on the picket lines with the SAG AFTRA and WGA strikes. There has been so much confusion about who can work and who can’t work. Well, for me, I am a SAG-AFTRA actress and I actually marched with some of my colleagues while in Los Angeles recently. That’s me with Viola Davis, that’s Niecy Nash, and we marched. And a big group of us, the WGA writers and the actors, we all came out to march.”
“But here’s the thing, talk shows in general fall under a different union contract code, so we’re allowed to come back — unless you’re a WGA show. The ‘Sherri’ show is not a WGA show and we have never employed WGA writers, so us coming back to work is not crossing the picket line.”
“And as a comic, my comedic take on the headlines is my voice. I write my jokes. I’m the writer, and I’m not in the WGA. I have the producers who help me shape my words, which is why we don’t have WGA writers here at ‘Sherri.’”
“My heart is breaking for all of the people that cannot work right now and I hope our industry can get this strike resolved soon.”
“I stand in solidarity with my union. And one of the things that we’re fighting for is better residuals. And I’m going to tell you residuals help us. Residuals came when I was going through a time where I didn’t work, residuals kept the lights on. They helped me pay my bills. My residual payments came into play when my son Jeffrey was born at 25 weeks. Those residual payments along with insurance helped me. So good residual payments are important to actors.”
“And one of the big sticking points that we are all marching against is artificial intelligence — which could replace working actors from working. And it could replace writers. And I am here to tell you, as an actress, A.I. you are not going to replace all of this sass. You cannot do it. I will not stand for it. A.I., you cannot replace this humor, you cannot replace my sass, and A.I., you cannot replace these boobs!”
For all of TheWrap’s Hollywood strike coverage, click here.