NEW YORK – Drew Barrymore is setting a high standard for herself as she joins the world of daytime talk show hosts today. She wants to emulate David Letterman and Howard Stern as interviewers.
Both men became media stars through their comedy – ironic for Letterman, crude for Stern. Yet each man, as their careers lengthened, became particularly skilled at disarming guests to get beyond stilted “what have you been up to lately” conversations.
“We're all human beings on this planet going through our lives and our journeys and there's a way to connect through that,” Barrymore said. “We don't have to poke. I'm not looking to mess someone over. But at the same time, I just like to go in beneath the layers. I can't stand the surface. I've never lived in that space.”
“The Drew Barrymore Show,” retrofitted for the coronavirus era, is being distributed by CBS Television. It will air live at 9 a.m. in cities like New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Miami, and at 2 p.m. in Chicago, Dallas and Fort Wayne. Locally it will be seen on Channel 21.2.
Several bold-faced names will help the 45-year-old actress through her crucial first week: Reese Witherspoon, Jane Fonda, Charlize Theron, Tyra Banks and, on the first show alone, former co-stars Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu and Adam Sandler.
Barrymore, who most recently produced and starred in the Netflix series “Santa Clarita Diet,” said the time was right to try a talk show. She'll have a schedule that's a better fit for a single mom raising two girls than most entertainment jobs.
Her show will originate from New York, where she lives now. She'll concentrate on celebrity, self-help and comedy segments and leave politics to others.
“I find politics extremely alienating to one side or the other, depending on who's watching,” she said, “and I don't want to make people feel not welcomed here or judged or disliked.”
Makers of “The Drew Barrymore Show” had to adjust on the fly to COVID-19. There won't be a studio audience, although they will try to link to an audience at home electronically. Through technology, Barrymore will be able to interview a guest who seems to be sitting in a comfy chair across from her, even if they're actually across the country.
Barrymore described herself as a “naughty” talk show guest through the years for avoiding the pre-show interview, where guests discuss in advance the seemingly spontaneous stories they'll tell later when the cameras are on.
Barrymore prized true spontaneity – “I like to go in blind and play because life is just too short not to” – but now she'll be on the other side. And, yes, her staff will conduct pre-show interviews. It's helpful to know how far someone will be willing to go in addressing certain topics, she said.
“I've had all my stuff out there, and I know how raw and vulnerable it feels,” she said. “I don't want to make people feel that way. But I do want to talk about stuff. I'm not shy. I haven't had the luxury of being shy in my life.”