Drew Barrymore: National Book Awards drop star as host over strike row

Drew Barrymore has been dropped as host of the US National Book Awards after controversy about her TV show returning during the ongoing Hollywood strike.

Earlier this week, the talk show host and actress said the programme's return would be in line with strike rules.

But the show's writers were among those who picketed the studio in New York after it resumed filming.

On Tuesday, the National Book Foundation said it had rescinded her invitation to host Friday's ceremony.

"The National Book Awards is an evening dedicated to celebrating the power of literature, and the incomparable contributions of writers to our culture," it said in a statement.

"In light of the announcement that The Drew Barrymore Show will resume production, the National Book Foundation has rescinded Ms Barrymore's invitation to host the 74th National Book Awards Ceremony [in New York]."

'I own this choice'

National Book Foundation bosses had previously lauded her work championing books on her show.

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) has been on strike since the beginning of May over concerns about pay, conditions and the use of AI, with actors joining the writers in July.

At the start of the strike, Barrymore stepped down as host of the MTV Film and TV Awards in solidarity with the striking WGA members.

But the star said she 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".

Striking writers picket outside of the CBS studios in New York as audience members arrive for the Drew Barrymore Show
Striking writers picket outside of the CBS studios in New York as audience members arrive for the Drew Barrymore Show

"I own this choice," she added, confirming the show would not break strike rules by promoting affected TV shows or films.

"I want to be there to provide what writers do so well, which is a way to bring us together or help us make sense of the human experience."

TV network CBS said her show "will not be performing any writing work covered by the WGA strike".

'Bigger than The Drew Barrymore Show'

The show, which is due to air again from 18 September, normally employs at least three writers who are members of the writers' guild, who demonstrated outside CBS Studios.

Speaking on the picket line, one of them, Chelsea White, said: "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."

The writers' union said Barrymore's show was a "WGA covered, struck show that is planning to return without its writers".

It added: "The Guild has, and will continue to, picket struck shows that are in production during the strike. Any writing on The Drew Barrymore Show is in violation of WGA strike rules."

Variety noted that Barrymore's work as a performer on The Drew Barrymore Show is not a violation of current strike rules.

That's because 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.

The BBC has contacted Barrymore for comment.