Heading into her new daytime talk show, Drew Barrymore has one big advantage.
She’s already seen it all, done it all, been it all. And most of that was decades ago.
“I hosted (‘Saturday Night Live’) when I was 7 years old,” she reminded TV critics. Then came the wilder years, when she was “blacklisted at 12. (When) you’re on the cover of the Natonal Enqurier at 13 years old for being institutionalized, there’s not much people can throw your way.”
All of that is deep in the past. Now she’s 45, thrice-divorced, with two young children and a life she once described as “almost a nun.” And she’s ready to talk; she always has been.
From the earliest days, Barrymore has been an ideal guest on other people’s shows. “I never wanted to do a pre-interview,” she said, at a virtual press conference with the Television Critics Association. “I never wanted to know what questions were coming my way …. Spontaneity for me was crucial.”
So she talked freely and gleefully. She also flashed David Letterman, pulling up her shirt (with her back to the camera). She made talk shows interesting.
Now she has her own show, debuting Monday (Sept. 14), and she’s far from a bad-girl element. Jason Kurtz, the show’s producer, says she offers a “look at the world through a different lens, a positive lens, optimistic lens, a lens that makes you feel good.”
She has the sort of upbeat approach that works for Jimmy Fallon … which shouldn’t surprise us.
Fallon and Barrymore starred in “Fever Pitch” in 2005 and met Nancy Juvonen, Barrymore’s business partner and one of the film’s producers; now they’re married, with two kids. “She’s my partner of 25 years,” Barrymore said. “They’re family …. He is kind to everyone, when no one’s looking.”
He also took a small role when she made her director debut with, “Whip It,” a roller-derby movie. That was more than a decade ago and she hasn’t tried again, but she still recalls the experience fondly.
“I really loved directing,” she said, “because I could (think about) casting, production design, editing, writing, art, literature, travel, wonderment, imagination, comedy, chemistry, romance …. And this is exactly what a talk show has the opportunity to do.”
Barrymore’s grandfather (John Barrymore) was a stage and movie star, as were his siblings, Lionel and Ethel. Her father, John Drew Barrymore, was an actor plagued by drug problems; her parents divorced when she was 9.
By then, she was already a star. Steven Spielberg directed her in “ET” when she was 7; when she was 9, he was her personal acting coach for a moving scene in “Irreconcilable Differences.” There were other films – “Firestarter,” “Cat’s Eye,” a “Babes in Toyland” reboot – and then the wild years. She was sent to a mental institution at 13, was legally emancipated and got her own apartment at 15, posed for Playboy at 19. She also wrote her first memoir at 16, entitled “Little Girl Lost.”
Except then she was found again. She launched a grown-up movie career that included two “Charlie’s Angels” films and three Adam Sandler films (“The Wedding Singer, “50 First Dates,” “Blended”), plus “Never Been Kissed,” “Grey Gardens” and the Netflix series “Santa Clarita Diet.”
Now people might guess she’s a fan of lightweight romantic comedies. Still, Barrymore shows a fondness for a satirical edge. “I love ‘The Daily Show,’” she said. “I love John Oliver and Samantha Bee. I love ‘Saturday Night Live’; for me, that’s a big training ground.”
She’s hosted that show six times and says the “SNL” vibe is one reason she liked moving ti New York City. Then came the call from CBS, which wanted a talk show that would be on the stations it owns.
“They were like, ‘There’s one caveat: It needs to take place in New York,’” she recalled. “I was like, ‘Oh, I just moved here, so that’s cool.’”
The means her show can be live for some stations in the Eastern (9 a.m.) and Central (8) time zones.
But what about her famous friends in California? As Kurtz tells it: “We also built a three-dimensional green-screen studio in Los Angeles, where we can beam someone in like it’s the future.”
Barrymore can casually chat with someone who seems to be next to her … but is 3,000 miles away. That should be easy for someone who, 38 years ago, was acting opposite an extraterrestrial being.