Drew Barrymore Steps Down as National Book Awards Host

Drew Barrymore : The National Book Foundation’s Decision

A day after taping the first episode of her talk show amidst the ongoing Hollywood writers’ strike, Drew Barrymore made headlines again as she was dropped as the host of the highly anticipated 74th National Book Awards Ceremony. The decision was made public in a statement released by the National Book Foundation, the organization responsible for presenting the prestigious literary awards.

The National Book Foundation’s Statement

In their statement on Tuesday, the National Book Foundation emphasized the importance of the National Book Awards in honoring literature and the significant contributions made by writers to our culture. The statement read, “The National Book Foundation has rescinded Ms. Barrymore’s invitation to host the 74th National Book Awards Ceremony in light of the announcement that ‘The Drew Barrymore Show’ will resume production.”

A Key Date for the Publishing Industry

The National Book Awards, often referred to as the publishing industry’s Oscars, were scheduled for November 15th. Despite the strike affecting the entertainment industry, Barrymore’s resumption of her CBS talk show was not inherently problematic, as daytime talk shows operate under a different contract governed by the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Radio and Television Artists (SAG-AFTRA). However, the writers guild, which has been on strike since early May, employs at least three writers for Barrymore’s show, and they picketed outside the CBS Broadcast Building in protest.

Solidarity with the Writers’ Strike

Chelsea White, one of the show’s writers, explained the writers’ stance, saying, “I know three WGA writers won’t return, and the rest I can’t speak for.” She added, “Firstly, this is a much bigger story than just ‘The Drew Barrymore Show’ and its writers. We are here standing with our union, and we are always excited about standing with our union.”

Backlash from Guild Members and Authors

As host of the National Book Awards, Barrymore faced criticism from members of both guilds who accused her of crossing the picket line. Notable authors such as Colson Whitehead, Alexander Chee, and others expressed their disagreement with her hosting the event and called for her replacement.

Barrymore’s Response

While an official representative for Barrymore did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the fourth season of her talk show, she made it clear that her decision was in solidarity with the strike. She stated, “I have chosen to return to this strike for the first time, though it may have my name on it, but this is bigger than me.” Barrymore also committed to not discussing or promoting struck work during the strike.

A Focus on Writers

Barrymore expressed her commitment to supporting writers and their craft. She emphasized that writers excel at bringing people together and helping them make sense of their human experiences.

A Familiar Trend Amidst Strikes

This isn’t the first time a high-profile figure has withdrawn from a hosting role due to the writers’ strike. Barrymore’s situation parallels instances such as the MTV Movie & TV Awards, which transitioned to a clip-heavy pre-recorded show, with Barrymore initially dropping out as host. Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos also chose not to attend an event, expressing his desire not to distract from the vital work done by organizations like PEN America that support writers and journalists.

Drew Barrymore

A Legacy of Supporting Books

Drew Barrymore’s involvement would have made her one of the most recognizable hosts in the history of the National Book Awards, which have long been championed by the National Book Foundation. Her dedication to promoting books and their power to open doors, spark conversations, and build communities aligns with the mission of the event, as noted by David Steinberger, the chair of the board of directors of the National Book Foundation.

A Continued Celebration of Writers and Books

In a final statement, the National Book Foundation reiterated its commitment to keeping the National Book Awards as a celebration of writers and books, thanking Ms. Barrymore for her understanding amidst the circumstances.

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