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Is the profession of ‘Sly’ really rockier than expected?

Sly Assessment: His Rocky Street of a Profession Is Headier Than You Count on

In the midst of the controversy surrounding Drew Barrymore’s return to her daytime discuss present, there’s a bigger dialog to be had about the peculiar nature of syndicated TV. While Barrymore has faced criticism for her decision to return during the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, she is not the only daytime host making a comeback this week. Other shows, like “The Jennifer Hudson Show” and “The Talk,” are also launching new seasons.

So why are these shows returning amidst strikes and tensions? The answer lies in the world of syndicated TV. Unlike network shows that have a permanent slot on a network’s schedule, syndicated daytime talk shows like “The Drew Barrymore Show” have contractual obligations to deliver new episodes to their local station partners. This means that these shows are required to produce a specific number of episodes each season for over 200 local stations. If they don’t meet these obligations, they risk losing their show.

According to Frank Cicha, the executive vice president of programming for Fox Television Stations, the station group that carries many syndicated talk shows, “there are already more repeats than anyone needs, so the idea of your main talk shows not coming back, that gets a bit scary.” In an era where streaming services are gaining more viewership than linear programming, original talk shows are a costly production for a daytime market with fewer viewers. More repeats could lead to the decline of national syndication.

However, for the writers who are currently on strike, this is a matter of fighting for better wages and working conditions. They have been on strike for over four months and feel that they are on a “death march.” Some of Barrymore’s own writers have spoken out against the show returning, but for those working in daytime, their livelihood depends on these shows. Each show employs a large staff, including two to four writers, and if a show were to be pulled off the air, many people would lose their jobs.

The debate about whether these shows can operate without writers is ongoing. While some shows may require a larger writing team, many shows are heavily unscripted and rely on off-the-cuff conversations. The WGA argues that all work on talk shows requires writers, but talk show staffers have expressed confusion over this statement, as it doesn’t seem to apply to all shows.

In the end, the decision to return to production during the strikes is a business one. Syndicated talk shows have contractual obligations to their local station partners and need to deliver new episodes to maintain their show. While there is criticism surrounding the return of these shows, it’s important to consider the complexities of the industry and the livelihoods that are at stake.