Talk show host and actress Drew Barrymore issued a heartfelt statement after stepping down as host of this year's MTV Movie & TV Awards in solidarity with the striking Writers Guild of America (WGA) union members.
Her decision came as the first writers' strike in 15 years started on Tuesday after the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) and the WGA failed to come to a contract negotiation agreement Monday night.
The WGA is seeking better compensation, the hiring of more writers per show, and higher residual payments on highly successful shows.
As an act of good faith, Barrymore promised to return as host for the 2024 MTV Movie & TV Awards show.
Sunday's telecast currently has no host as producers explore other strike contingency plans and see if any presenters, nominees, or other guests that might attend would be willing to step up for the vacated position.
Barrymore issued the following statement after the news headline came to light.
“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.”
“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.”
Although she will not be physically present at the ceremony, Barrymore might be seen as part of the telecast in the form of pre-taped short films that were shot ahead of the presentation.
Her split from MTV was amicable, and the channel respected her decision.
Bruce Gillmer, the president of music, music talent, programming, and events at Paramount Global, and an executive producer of the MTV Movie & TV Awards told Variety:
“Drew, without question, she’s been incredible. It’s hard to imagine that we’ve ever had a better experience with a host."
“She’s more of a partner really, she’s in it every day, just super passionate and super engaged and creative."
"She even bought some of her own team along for the journey. So when this all reared its head, we started to prepare for what could be."
"She is not surprisingly, standing in solidarity with the writers, which we have full respect for. She has our full support.“
"So she’s not going to be with us live in the house for the show and we will essentially be going hostless."
“The silver lining in all of this is that we really formed a partnership almost a family-like atmosphere."
"So we see this as a shift in direction, but also a pause for the initial plan, which we’ve all agreed and she’s accepted to continue as our host in 2024."
Gillmer noted that producers are scrambling to find a way to open the presentation, which could include one of the pre-taped clips featuring Barrymore.
As for who could fill in as a replacement host, Gillmer said producers are still waiting to hear which nominees and presenters are planning to attend.
One of the names floated was White Lotus star Jennifer Coolidge, who is expected to receive the "Comedic Genius" award.
Gillmer also said MTV is figuring out how to address the strike situation to explain why this year's show looks different.
He said producers still plan on delivering for the fans, and they are cautiously optimistic.
"The exclusive sneak peeks of the big films that are to be released. We still have a live performance."
"We still have the award sequences, although those are the elements that are very unpredictable—because clearly we don’t know which talent will feel comfortable."
"A lot of them won’t.”
He assured viewers the main focus, which is to recognize the talent for their achievements in the past year, will still be an integral part of the ceremony.
“But we have a plan, since the award show is fan-voted, we want to honor the fans’ participation and also honor the talent that earn these awards.”
“So we’ll be giving the awards away. We’re working on a plan on how to do that without the traditional presentation involved, should the talent or some of the talent not show."
"We’ve got backups to our backups. And we’re planning on keeping as many of the signature elements of the show intact."
"We will have a live audience and it will still be a live event. Different, with more pre-taped packages and so forth, which are scalable, but it’ll still have that live event feel.”
This year's ceremony included originally-announced presenters Tiffany Haddish, Jamie Lee Curtis, Dave Burd (“Lil Dicky”), Gal Gadot, Rodrigo Santoro, and Sarah Michelle Gellar.
Also initially announced were Transformers: Rise of the Beasts stars Anthony Ramos and Dominique Fishback; Yellowjackets stars Courtney Eaton, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Liv Hewson, Samantha Hanratty, Sophie Nélisse, and Sophie Thatcher; and Joy Ride stars Ashley Park, Sabrina Wu, Sherry Cola, and Stephanie Hsu.
Ayo Edebiri, Havana Rose Liu, Kaia Gerber, and Rachel Sennott (Bottoms); Camila Morrone, Riley Keough, Sam Claflin, and Suki Waterhouse (Daisy Jones & The Six); Halle Bailey and Jonah Hauer-King (The Little Mermaid) were also originally set to appear.
“We’re going to be super respectful of the talents’ decisions to either be involved in pre tapes, show up or not show up, whatever they decide."
“We’ve got backup plans and coverage just in case, so I guess the short answer is, I’m not sure yet…"
"There’s also athletes and celebrity chefs and all kinds of other talent that are not squarely affected."
"So we’ll be going down that road. We will be looking for some live talent in the room to help tell the story, but not host segments per se."
"We also have a very charismatic VO artist with us, so stay tuned. It’s all unfolding in real-time.”
He is confident viewers will still be in for an entertaining evening.
“We’ve got acceptances from big talent already, and then the short films are incredible," said Gillmer, adding:
"They’re so funny, and entertaining and emotional, and you know, they’re there."
"There’s big and loud and impactful as ever, so those will be there."
"The audience always loves the sneak peeks for the biggest movies that are about to be released."
"They can only see those sneak peeks on this award show."
"And we’re going to give awards away that they voted on for the signature categories, like best kiss, villain flight, all that. Hopefully, we figured out a way to celebrate some of the year’s biggest moments and WTF moments.”
In recognition of the WGA strike, there will be no red carpet event ahead of the ceremony, which will take place at last year's location at Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California.
The WGA strike forced all film and TV production, including late-night shows like Jimmy Kimmel Live! and The Tonight Show, to stop immediately.
With no further talks scheduled between AMPTP and WGA, it is unknown how long union writers will be without a paycheck or if TV shows will be delayed or possibly canceled during the ongoing strike.