A microphone, in a spotlight, on an empty stage.

The National Book Awards Found a Much Better Host After Drew Barrymore Crossed the Picket Line

The National Book Awards is a prestigious event dedicated to the wonderful art of writing. Their mission statement is important: “The mission of the National Book Foundation is to celebrate the best literature published in the United States, expand its audience, and ensure that books have a prominent place in our culture.” This is so crucial nowadays, especially because of the unbelievable assault on reading and books by some who are intent on pushing things like book bans. Because of some recent controversies, they had to come up with a new host for their Awards ceremony, and LeVar Burton was the obvious choice!

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Actress and television host Drew Barrymore was initially slated to be the host for this event, which has been considered the Academy Awards for literature. During the Hollywood writers’ strike, Barrymore eventually announced that her popular talk show would be coming back without unionized writers. That was received about as well as you’d expect, and the National Book Awards rescinded their invitation for her to host. Her show is under an agreement with the Writer’s Guild of America and was subject to the striking rules, contrary to Barrymore’s decision.

People picketed the show, including some of its own writers. Barrymore then decided to pause the production of her show until the strike was over, which it now is, but the Book Awards’ decision to rescind her invitation had already taken place. They released a statement that says, “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.”

I think this is the best decision as her involvement, regardless of anyone’s views on her actions, would probably cause an unnecessary distraction, and as I mentioned, there’s already enough crap going on with the book bans. 

Burton will be the new host, and he released a statement saying that it was an honor for him to return—he hosted the show before in 2019. I have always loved him personally! My first introduction to his greatness was OBVIOUSLY with Reading Rainbow. The PBS show was such a huge part of my childhood. Like was the case with so many kids, it made me want to read and explore my imagination. He continues his own love of books as he hosts “LeVar Burton Reads,” where he highlights different authors by reading short fiction works. It is clear that he has committed so much to the art of writing and is the perfect host for the awards ceremony, which is scheduled for November 15.

(featured image: Adam Taylor/Getty Images, main image: raya Doheny/Getty Images for STARZ))

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