Ted Sarandos Pulls Out of PEN America Gala Honoring Him Amid Writers Strike (EXCLUSIVE)

Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos will no longer attend a gala meant to honor him next week in New York. The decision comes as labor issues grab headlines across Hollywood.

Sarandos was set to accept the Business Visionary Award at the annual PEN American Spring Literary Gala, alongside fellow honoree Lorne Michaels and a host of literati including Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Susan Choi, Jennifer Egan, Min Jin Lee, Jay McInerney and Gay Talese. He’s skipping the event, to be held under the blue whale at the American Museum of Natural History, as many industry celebrations weigh how to address the writers strike.

More from Variety

“Given the threat to disrupt this wonderful evening, I thought it was best to pull out so as not to distract from the important work that PEN America does for writers and journalists, as well as the celebration of my friend and personal hero Lorne Michaels. I hope the evening is a great success,” Sarandos told Variety in a statement.

This gala honors contributors in fields like literature, the arts, journalism, publishing, film and other endeavors — as well as those who have demonstrated remarkable courage by standing in the face of adversity for free expression.

“We admire Ted Sarandos’ singular work translating literature to artful presentation on screen, and his stalwart defense of free expression and satire. As a writers organization, we have been following recent events closely and understand his decision,” PEN America said. “Our gala program, with honorees including ‘Saturday Night Live’s’ Lorne Michaels and emcee Colin Jost, will center on the escalating campaign of book bans in this country, tightening constraints on satire and comedy and support of threatened writers worldwide. We look forward to a moving and inspiring event that will fuel our fervent work on behalf of free speech.”

Michaels, legendary creator of “Saturday Night Live,” will accept the PEN/Audible Literary Service Award. Past honorees across categories include President Barack Obama, Ava DuVernay, Bob Woodward, Stephen King, Patti Smith, the late Toni Morrison and Stephen Sondheim and Zadie Smith.

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Click here to read the full article.