MIAMI — Drew Barrymore has always loved television, but for years she was afraid of working in TV.
“I didn’t like the idea of being attached to unknown material,” Barrymore said. “I thought ‘What if the scripts come in and I hate them?’ “
Barrymore conquered that fear when she committed to Netflix’s offbeat comedy “Santa Clarita Diet,” which ended after three seasons last year. Now she’s taking the script in to her own hands as the host and executive producer of “The Drew Barrymore Show,” a syndicated daytime talk show from CBS Television Distribution that has been cleared to launch this fall on stations representing 85% of U.S. TV households.
“I keep calling it ‘Optimism TV,’ ” Barrymore told Variety as she took a break from pitching the show to prospective station buyers at the annual NATPE conference in Miami.
She plans to bring “humor and heart” to a show that she hopes will allow her to use all of the muscles and skills she built up during her remarkable life to date.
“I’m in the joy business,” she said. “I don’t carry the umbrella of darkness with me.”
For Barrymore, a big part of the appeal of a talk show was that it would allow her to maintain a reasonable lifestyle as the mother of two young girls — ages 6 and 8 — in contrast to working on a film set where its not unusual for actors to work “4 a.m. to 11 p.m.,” she said.
Barrymore sounds like the entrepreneur that she has become — she launched the successful Flower By Drew lifestyle brand of products in 2013 — in outlining the reasoning that brought her to daytime TV.
“I didn’t want to let go of everything I’ve done and who I was,” Barrymore said. “I wanted to make a new application of all that in a way that better served me schedule-wise.”
Barrymore has grown up in the public eye, becoming a household name at the age of 7 as a star of the 1982 smash hit “ET the Extra-Terrestrial.” She went through a plenty of public trials as a teenager (she was legally emancipated from her mother at the age of 14) and young adult.
That familiarity will serve Barrymore well as she transitions to a form in which she will no longer play a character other than herself.
“People do have a feeling about who she is,” said Elaine Bauer Brooks, exec VP of development and multiplatform distribution for CBS Television Distribution. “The thing that really resonated with me when I asked her about her desire to be herself on TV. She told me: ‘I am who you think I am.’ Daytime is a talent-driven medium. People have to develop a relationship with the hosts.”
Barrymore first pursued the prospect of a talk show deal with Warner Bros. in 2016. The move to CBS was made easier by her instant rapport with Brooks, Barrymore said.
Barrymore is closely involved in designing every detail of the show including the set, which reflects her interest in home decor as a purveyor of lifestyle products. She is eager to get moving on a show that she describes as a mix of celebrity interviews, lifestyle segments and comedy. “Drew Barrymore” has yet to name a showrunner. But Barrymore said she feels like “a greyhound at the starting gate” ready to race.
“I want this to be a show that celebrates every part of humanity,” Barrymore said. “There’s been an interesting alignment of the tone and the intention and the moment for everyone involved.”