Drew Barrymore, the popular talk show host and actress, has been dropped as the host of the National Book Awards after her show resumed production during the ongoing Hollywood writers’ strike. The strike, which began in May 2023, has affected thousands of writers, actors, and other workers in the entertainment industry who are demanding better pay, conditions, and protection from the use of artificial intelligence.
Barrymore had previously expressed her solidarity with the striking Writers Guild of America (WGA) members and stepped down as the host of the MTV Film and TV Awards in July 2023. However, on Monday, she announced that she had made “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”. She said she wanted to “provide what writers do so well, which is a way to bring us together or help us make sense of the human experience”.
National Book Foundation rescinds invitation to Barrymore
The National Book Foundation, which organizes the prestigious literary awards ceremony, said it had rescinded Barrymore’s invitation to host the 74th National Book Awards on Tuesday. In a statement, it said: “The National Book Awards is an evening dedicated to celebrating the power of literature, and the incomparable contributions of writers to our culture. In light of the announcement that The Drew Barrymore Show will resume production, the National Book Foundation has rescinded Ms Barrymore’s invitation to host the 74th National Book Awards Ceremony.”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 foundation had previously praised Barrymore for her work championing books on her show, which features a segment called “Drew’s Little Book Club” where she interviews authors and recommends books to her viewers. The foundation said it would announce a new host for the ceremony, which will take place on November 15 in New York City, soon.
Writers protest outside CBS Studios
Barrymore’s decision to return to work amid the strike sparked outrage among many writers, especially those who work on her show. The Drew Barrymore Show normally employs at least three writers who are members of the WGA, who joined other striking writers in picketing outside CBS Studios on Tuesday. One of them, Chelsea White, said: “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.”
According to Variety, Barrymore’s work as a performer on The Drew Barrymore Show is not a violation of current strike rules, as the CBS show is covered by a different actors’ contract than the one in dispute. The contract, which covers talk shows, game shows, variety shows and soaps, was renewed and ratified by union members last year. However, many writers and actors have criticized Barrymore for crossing the picket line and undermining the strike.
Barrymore faces backlash from fans and peers
Barrymore’s move has also drawn criticism from fans and peers on social media. Many users expressed their disappointment and anger at Barrymore for betraying the writers’ cause and supporting a network that has been accused of exploiting and mistreating its workers. Some users also called for boycotting her show and products.
Some celebrities also voiced their support for the striking writers and condemned Barrymore’s actions. For instance, comedian Sarah Silverman tweeted: “Shame on you @DrewBarrymore for scabbing on your fellow writers. You should know better than anyone how hard they work and how much they deserve fair compensation and respect. #StandWithWGA”. Actor Mark Ruffalo also posted: “I stand with my brothers and sisters in the WGA who are fighting for their rights and dignity in this industry. Drew Barrymore, you are not bigger than this. You are hurting yourself and everyone else who depends on you. Please reconsider your decision and join us on the right side of history. #Solidarity”.