Drew Barrymore Pulls Out of Hosting MTV Movie & TV Awards in Support of Writers Strike, Plans 2024 Return (EXCLUSIVE)
Drew Barrymore is stepping down as host of this year’s MTV Movie & TV Awards, in a show of support and solidarity to the striking Writers Guild members. But as a sign of good faith to MTV, Barrymore has also agreed to return and host next year’s edition of the kudocast instead.
Sunday night’s MTV Movie & TV Awards will still continue, but will now go hostless. The state of the show is still evolving day-by-day, as producers pivot to their strike contingency plans and wait and see who among their presenters, nominees and guests are still willing and able to appear on the telecast. As another nod to the evolving news, there will no longer be a red carpet or talent interviews before the show.
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“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,” Barrymore said in a statement. “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.”
Barrymore won’t be at the live event, but she may still be seen on this Sunday’s show: As host, she had already participated in several pre-taped short films for the telecast — and those timely pieces are still expected to air.
“Drew, without question, she’s been incredible. It’s hard to imagine that we’ve ever had a better experience with a host,” 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. “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,” he added. “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.”
Because the situation is fluid, Gillmer said he’s still waiting word on which presenters and nominees might still attend. That includes “The White Lotus” star Jennifer Coolidge, who is slated to receive the ‘Comedic Genius’ award. Gillmer said producers are also still ironing out how the show will open — although as of now, it could be a pre-tape bit featuring Barrymore. After that, the show plans to find a way to explain what is happening with the strike and why the show looks a bit different than originally planned.
But Gillmer said that the show won’t dwell on that, and instead still plans “on delivering for the fans. 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 said.
“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,” he added. “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.”
Gillmer said the show will include some pre taped acceptance speeches for winners, but the producers are also treading lightly in working with talent as they decide whether to still attend. The originally announced list of presenters included Tiffany Haddish, Jamie Lee Curtis, Dave Burd (“Lil Dicky”), Gal Gadot, Rodrigo Santoro and Sarah Michelle Gellar. Also “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.
Also originally set to appear: 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”).
“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,” he said. “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.”
The MTV Movie & TV Awards has faced numerous changes in recent years, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020 show, scheduled for that spring soon after the outbreak, was moved to fall that year — and then scrapped all together, replaced with a pre-taped clip show with some awards. The show returned in 2021 and 2022, but with COVID-mandated limitations.
“We were certainly one of the first with the VMAs in the early days of COVID,” Gillmer noted. “It was equally as intense, but you also had the added complexity of health. I’m not going to dodge the fact that we have a little bit of PTSD. But we do have the best team, and Drew and her team are part of this. But yeah, we’re battle tested.”
Gillmer said he’s still confident this show will still be entertaining for fans. “We’ve got acceptances from from big talent already, and then the short films are incredible. 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 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.”
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