Drew Barrymore has been booted as the host of the 2023 National Book Awards due to her eponymous talk show’s resumed production during the dual WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, the National Book Foundation announced Tuesday.
Reasoning that the actress’ presence would distract from the evening’s mission to celebrate “the incomparable contribution of writers to our culture,” the foundation said in a social media post that they are “grateful to Ms. Barrymore and her team for their understanding in this situation.”
The decision comes one day after “The Drew Barrymore Show” resumed production, despite the industry’s ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA labor strikes. Barrymore announced the decision to return to production on Sunday and began filming new episodes again on Monday.
“I am also making the choice to come back for the first time in this strike for our show, that may have my name on it, but this is bigger than just me,” Barrymore said on Sunday, via Instagram.
While the talk show’s union writers were not returning to production, Barrymore emphasized that the series would be in compliance with strike rules when interviewing talent by “not discussing or promoting film and television that is struck of any kind.”
The decision was met with widespread backlash, and “The Drew Barrymore Show” was picketed outside its studio while filming on Monday. Further headlines were made when fans and attendees of the show Dominic Turiczek and Cassidy Carter were denied entry for wearing pins in support of the WGA, as they were being distributed on the picket line.
“Some security guy came and pulled us off to the side,” Turiczek told TheWrap of the incident. “He was like, ‘You’re out. I already talked to people above me, and I see that on your shirt. I’m part of the show, you’re out, no questions asked.’”
“The National Book Awards is an evening dedicated to celebrating the power of literature, and the incomparable contributions of writers to our culture,” read the National Book Foundation’s statement in full. “In light of the announcement that ‘The Drew Barrymore Show’ will resume production, the National Book Foundation has rescinded Ms.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. 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’s decision to cut Barrymore’s involvement in the ceremony was not the first time her hosting duties were impacted by the ongoing strikes against the Hollywood studios — but it was the first time it wasn’t on her own terms. Back in May, Barrymore bowed out of hosting the MTV Movie & TV Awards in support of the WGA strike.
“I have listened to the writers, and in order to truly respect them, I will pivot from hosting the MTV Movie & TV Awards live in solidarity with the strike,” she said in a statement at the time. “Everything we celebrate and honor about movies and television is born out of their creation. And until a solution is reached, I am choosing to wait but I’ll be watching from home and hope you will join me. I thank MTV, who has truly been some of the best partners I have ever worked with. And I can’t wait to be a part of this next year, when I can truly celebrate everything that MTV has created, which is a show that allows fans to choose who the awards go to and is truly inclusive.”
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