The pandemic has been lethal to many projects, but CBS Television Distribution’s new talker, The Drew Barrymore Show, is not one of them. If anything, quarantine conditions have forced the production to up its game.
When the show launches from its New York studio on Monday, Sept. 14, it will be live (or live-to-tape, depending on time zone) four days a week, with a pretaped episode on Fridays. Going live wasn’t in the show’s initial plans, but that changed. Like all other talk shows in the age of COVID-19, there won’t be an in-studio audience, only a minimal crew adhering to strict safety procedures.
The show will kick off with a segment called “Drew’s News” that will take on topics that are about “the joys, laughs and discoveries that bring us together. She’ll talk about people and stories and things that are happening in the world. She’s curating the very best and the things that make you feel really good,” Elaine Bauer Brooks, executive VP, development, CTD, said.
It’s early for the show to talk specifically about what it plans to turn its attention to. “We came up with a formula that is unique, special and custom for this show,” Bauer Brooks said. “It became really important to Drew and to us to be able to do news portions of the show and make them live and tonally correct. We want to be able to react in the moment as a way to remind viewers of the things that connect us and to be able to see things through Drew’s optimistic lens.”
There also will be “beautiful, polished, in-depth, produced pieces that explore things in the areas of lifestyle and human interest,” Bauer Brooks said, as well as guests Zooming or Skyping in for remote chats.
Making Space for Fun
It’s all about creating an hour a day where daytime viewers want to hang out and have fun, which feels especially needed during the ongoing pandemic and the upcoming presidential election, Bauer Brooks said.
“When I first met Drew and I was talking to her about why she wants to do this, she said,
‘I am who you think I am,’ ” she said. “That means something. We have all grown up with her and we do think she is a certain way. That statement has been tested through the pilot and the pandemic.
“She remains true to who I think she is — she’s a creative force, she’s true to herself — the rose-colored glasses she sees life through are rooted in reality,” Bauer Brooks added. “She has a way of turning things in such a way that you feel better.”
CTD started marketing the show in late July. The first promo out revealed a 7-year-old Barrymore talking to her older self about the talk show. The spot was released 38 years to the day after Barrymore made an iconic appearance on NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. The team that produced the spot took what Barrymore actually said when she was talking to Carson and wrote a script to integrate the current Barrymore.
“If you watch that interview, you know she was destined to be a star,” Mary Beth McAdaragh, executive VP, marketing, CTD, said. “Who better to host a talk show than someone who has appeared on talk shows since she was a little girl?”
Another spot, also released that week, features Barrymore in bright and bold colors gently reminding viewers of all her other roles — whether that’s starring in movies such as E.T., Firestarter and Charlie’s Angels, as a mom of two daughters or even as a talk-show guest who once infamously flashed David Letterman — and why they should carve out an hour a day for her come September. “She reminds people of some of the iconic things she has done and then announces she’s going to do something you’ve never seen her do,” McAdaragh said.
The show also is doing out-of-home campaigns and taxi toppers in key cities, such as New York and Los Angeles, that follow up on the themes introduced by the first two promos.
Closer to launch, it will move into topical promos, drawn from early production sessions in the show’s New York studios, with tune-in information, McAdaragh said.
Big Digital Presence
Prior to releasing those spots, the show unveiled its digital experience, which includes thedrewbarrymoreshow.com and several digital features, including a documentary on the making of the program; a digital episodic series in which Barrymore talks to TV hosts who have inspired her; and “Drew’s Cookbook Club.” Another regular online feature, “Drew’s Movie Nite,” kicked off on Twitter July 30 with a co-viewing of Good Burger on ViacomCBS-owned Nickelodeon and an after-chat on the show’s Twitter feed @DrewBarrymoreTV with the movie’s stars, Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell. The show also launched its social channels on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and Snapchat.
“The linear broadcast show and the social team is creating a 360 degree, always-on experience,” McAdaragh said. “Our No. 1 goal is to drive people to the broadcast every day … but you have to keep your viewers engaged far beyond that one hour a day.”
While the crew at Drew Barrymore is busily working toward launch, the other big talker planned for fall, Debmar-Mercury’s Nick Cannon, fell by the wayside after Cannon made anti-Semitic remarks on his YouTube podcast. Debmar-Mercury hopes to revive the show in 2021. In the meantime Fox stations are rearranging their schedules, doing such things as keeping Warner Bros.’ The Real in its current time slots, to make up for the miss.
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