AceShowbiz - Sherri Shepherd is speaking out on her decision to resume production of her talk show, "Sherri", amid the WGA strike. In the Monday, September 18 season 2 premiere, the host/comedian explained why her show's return wasn't crossing the picket line in addition to affirming her support for the WGA and SAG-AFTRA unions.
"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," Sherri told the audience. "There has been so much confusion about who can work and who can't work."
The 56-year-old actress, who is a SAG member herself, noted that she'd been on the picket line with fellow actresses like Viola Davis, Niecy Nash and others. She then explained that talk shows which do not employ WGA writers fall under a "different union contract code."
"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," she elaborated. "The 'Sherri' show is not a WGA show and we have never employed WGA writers, so us coming back to work isn't crossing the picket line."
She continued, "As a comic, my comedic take on the headlines is my voice. I write the jokes. I'm the writer … producers help me shape my words. That's why we don't have WGA writers."
Later in the episode, Sherri expressed support for SAG-AFTRA members, who have been demanding higher residuals in the streaming age. "I stand in solidarity with my union," she continued. "One of the things that we're fighting for is better residuals. ... Residuals during times that I was not working kept the lights on. My residual payments helped me care for Jeffrey when he was born at 25 weeks. So good residual payments are important to actors."
She also addressed the artificial intelligence (AI), which both actors and writers are seeking to limit. "My heart is breaking for all of the people that can't work right now, and I hope our industry can get this strike resolved soon," she concluded.
"Sherri" isn't the only TV show returning for a new season amid the Hollywood strikes. ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" is set to premiere its season 32 on September 26 despite demand from WGA to push back its premiere. The long-running dancing competition series employs a crew of 500 people with one of the writers being a WGA member.
Insiders close to the production revealed to Variety that the show will be working in compliance with SAG-AFTRA rules. The sources also mentioned that the key focus is not to put talent in a tough spot as many cast members in the upcoming season are part of the actors' guild.
The insiders added that another major key consideration was ensuring that the large staff would not be out of work. "Everyone's focus is to keep 500 people employed," a production source claims, adding that the WGA writer will be back at work as soon as the strike comes to an end.