LeVar Burton Replaces Drew Barrymore as Nation Book Awards Host

National Book Awards rescinded Barrymore's hosting invitation last month.

LeVar Burton is set to replace Drew Barrymore as the host of the upcoming National Book Awards Ceremony in New York City. Barrymore had previously been set to host the event but organizers of the event announced last month that they had rescinded their offer after Barrymore announced she would resume filming her talk show, The Drew Barrymore Show, during the Writers Guild of America strike. Burton was the longtime host of PBS' Reading Rainbow and is the current host of the LeVar Burton Reads podcast.

"LeVar Burton has introduced multiple generations of young people to the joys of reading, and is a fearless advocate for book access, especially amidst the alarming rise in book banning across the country," said David Steinberger, Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Book Foundation, in a statement (via Deadline). "We are delighted to welcome LeVar back onto the National Book Awards stage, alongside special guest Oprah Winfrey, to champion the power of literature as the host this year's Ceremony & Benefit Dinner."

"I'm a big believer in the power of the written word," Burton said in a statement, "and am proud to stand alongside the National Book Foundation to celebrate exceptional storytelling and the Foundation's mission to make books accessible to everyone, everywhere. It's an honor to return as host of the biggest night for books, especially in a moment when the freedom to read is at risk and literature both needs and deserves our recognition and support."

In addition to his work with Reading Rainbow, Burton has been a longtime literacy advocate. He served as the executive producer for the 2023 documentary Right To Read as well as recently served as the Honorary Chair of Banned Books Week 2023. He's also hosted the National Book Awards ceremony before, back in 2019. This year's National Book Awards ceremony will take place on November 15th.

Drew Barrymore Show Writers Not Returning After WGA Strike

While the WGA strike ended recently after five months of negotiations between the labor organization and the AMPTP, three writers for The Drew Barrymore Show — Chelsea White, Cristina Kinon, and Liz Koe — have declined to return to the series.

What Happened With The Drew Barrymore Show?

Last month, The Drew Barrymore Show confirmed that would not be using any writing from WGA members amid the strikes. A SAG-AFTRA representative confirmed that the show "is produced under the Network Television Code which is a separate contract and is not struck. It is permissible work and Drew's role as host does not violate the current strike rules." Amid the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike, actors are also allowed to appear on The Drew Barrymore Show as guests, as long as they do not discuss or promote struck movies and television projects.  Barrymore ended up walking back the decision following backlash.

As was noted above, the National Book Awards ceremony will take place on November 15th in New York.