Drew Barrymore steps down as National Book Awards host after resuming her talk show amid writers’ strike
Controversy erupts as Barrymore returns to work
Drew Barrymore’s decision to resume production on her talk show “The Drew Barrymore Show” despite the ongoing writers’ strike has led to some backlash. Barrymore had previously been announced as the host of the 74th National Book Awards ceremony in November. However, the National Book Foundation has since rescinded their invitation in light of Barrymore’s return to work.
The Writers Guild of America has been on strike since May, fighting for issues around fair compensation, pension plans, and health insurance. Many writers for Barrymore’s talk show are members of the WGA and have been picketing outside the CBS Broadcast Center.
In a lengthy Instagram post, Barrymore addressed the decision to resume production despite the strike. She claimed the show would avoid “discussing or promoting film and television that is struck of any kind.” However, this was not enough to satisfy the National Book Foundation.
National Book Foundation responds
In a statement, the National Book Foundation said “Our commitment is to ensure that the focus of the Awards remains on celebrating writers and books.” They expressed gratitude to Barrymore but made it clear her hosting role had been revoked.
The Foundation emphasized that the Book Awards evening is meant to honor literary contributions and celebrate writers. By resuming her talk show against the strike, Barrymore’s involvement as host had become an unnecessary distraction from those goals.
Oprah Winfrey was still scheduled as a guest speaker for the November event. No replacement host for Barrymore had been announced at the time.
Barrymore had previously shown solidarity
Some felt Barrymore’s decision was contradictory given her previous stance of solidarity with writers. She had stepped down from hosting the MTV Movie & TV Awards in May directly because of the ongoing strike at that time.
However, resuming her own talk show, which employs striking WGA members, represented a break from that solidarity. Barrymore maintained in her Instagram post that her talk show was “bigger than just me” and that she aimed to be “in compliance” with the issues of the strike.
The decision by the National Book Foundation to revoke Barrymore’s hosting role demonstrates how fraught the issue of crossing picket lines remains, even for high profile celebrity figures. While Barrymore owns her choice to return, it represents a challenging dynamic as the writers’ strike continues. Her talks show’s move also adds fuel to the fire of the ongoing labor dispute in Hollywood. This controversy will likely continue to spark discussion around solidarity in the industry.