GOOD, because what Drew Barrymore did is wrong!
— Ms. Pinky Stanseski 🏳️⚧️🏳️🌈🇺🇦🇵🇸She/her (@undergradwoman) September 13, 2023
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: Drew Barrymore has been unceremoniously dropped as the host of the highly anticipated 74th National Book Awards ceremony.
The decision comes hot on the heels of the talk show host’s return to television screens with her ‘The Drew Barrymore Show’, taping its first episode since the commencement of the Hollywood writers’ strike.
Drew Barrymore ousted as ceremony host
The National Book Foundation, responsible for organizing the prestigious literary event often dubbed the “Academy Awards of the publishing world,” issued a statement on Tuesday, September 12, explaining their decision.
“The National Book Awards is an evening dedicated to celebrating the power of literature, and the incomparable contributions of writers to our culture,” they said.
“In light of the announcement that ‘The Drew Barrymore Show’ will resume production, the National Book Foundation has rescinded Ms. Barrymore’s invitation to host the 74th National Book Awards Ceremony,” the statement added.
An update on the host of the 2023 National Book Awards. pic.twitter.com/aa5aLh0FIU
— National Book Foundation (@nationalbook) September 12, 2023
Scheduled for November 15, the National Book Awards ceremony is a beacon in the literary world, honoring the most outstanding authors and their literary works.
Drew Barrymore runs into trouble with WGA
Barrymore’s resumption of her CBS talk show could have been seen as unproblematic within the framework of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Radio and Television Artists (SAG-AFTRA), as daytime talk shows operate under a different contract.
However, complications arose due to the presence of at least three writers on Barrymore’s show who are members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA), which has been embroiled in a strike since early May.
These writers were seen picketing outside the CBS Broadcast Building, raising questions about the ethical considerations of crossing the picket line.
Chelsea White, one of the show’s writers, emphasized the broader significance of the strike: “The only people I know for sure that are not going back are us three WGA writers. And the rest, I can’t really speak for. I think first and foremost, this is obviously way bigger than just ‘The Drew Barrymore Show’ and writers. We are out here standing with our union and feeling great and excited always to stand with our union.”
Barrymore’s decision to cross the picket line drew criticism from members of both SAG-AFTRA and WGA, as well as notable authors such as Colson Whitehead and Alexander Chee.
They raised doubts about whether she should continue as the host of the National Book Awards, according to NPR.
Supporters of the writers’ strike lauded the decision to oust Barrymore as host of the upcoming National Book Awards ceremony.
“Thank you for standing with the writers!” one tweeted.
“GOOD, because what Drew Barrymore did is wrong!” another wrote.
“Thank you for standing up for writers’ rights, even at the cost of whatever it took to break the contract. As a reader and an artist, I see you and am grateful for the institutional support of our creative futures,” someone else gushed.
“This is no small stand for the book world to take,” another chimed in.
Barrymore’s eponymous talk show is gearing up for its fourth season, scheduled to premiere on September 18.
When the writers’ strike began, Barrymore took a principled stand by stepping down from her role as the host of the MTV Movie & TV Awards in a show of solidarity. But in a recent Instagram post, she candidly acknowledged her decision to return to her show amid the ongoing strike.
“I made a choice to walk away from the MTV, film, and television awards because I was the host, and it had a direct conflict with what the strike was dealing with, which was studios, streamers, film, and television,” she explained.
“It was also in the first week of the strike and so I did what I thought was the appropriate thing at the time to stand in solidarity with the writers,” she added.
She emphasized that while the show bears her name, her choice to return is motivated by something greater than personal considerations.
“I own this choice,” Barrymore continued. “We are in compliance with not discussing or promoting film and television that is struck of any kind. We launched live in a global pandemic. Our show was built for sensitive times and has only functioned through what the real world is going through in real-time.”
Barrymore concluded her statement by reflecting on the show’s resilience, having navigated through challenging times since its launch in 2020, amidst the COVID-19 lockdown.
“We have navigated difficult times since we first came on air,” she wrote. “And so I take a step forward to start season 4 once again with an astute humility.”
The National Book Foundation, which has long aimed to elevate the profile of the book awards, had pinned high hopes on Barrymore as its host, recognizing her advocacy for literature.
David Steinberger, chair of the National Book Foundation’s board of directors, previously praised her and Oprah Winfrey for their belief in the transformative power of books.
“Throughout their careers, Drew Barrymore and Oprah Winfrey have each demonstrated their enduring belief that books have the power to change readers’ lives — by opening doors, sparking conversations, and building community,” Steinberger previously said.
The foundation, however, sought to put the spotlight back on embattled writers on Tuesday.
“Our commitment is to ensure that the focus of the Awards remains on celebrating writers and books, and we are grateful to Ms. Barrymore and her team for their understanding in this situation,” the foundation stated, reiterating their dedication to the authors and their literary contributions.