LeVar Burton to host National Book Awards after Drew Barrymore was fired

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Drew Barrymore didn’t only piss off Hollywood writers when she tried to bring her show back before the resolution of the WGA strike. In a show of solidarity, the National Book Awards disinvited Drew to be the host of the 2023 ceremony taking place in New York on November 15. They were pretty classy about it, too, thanking Drew for understanding how this was to ensure the evening remained focused on “celebrating the power of literature, and the incomparable contributions of writers to our culture.” One month later, and the National Book Awards have announced the perfect replacement host: LeVar Burton!

Call it a rainbow after the storm: LeVar Burton has been named the new host of the 74th annual National Book Awards.

The Reading Rainbow star is stepping in to replace Drew Barrymore, who was let go as host last month amid controversy surrounding her daytime talk show’s plan to return to the air during the Hollywood writers’ strike.

“I’m a big believer in the power of the written word, 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,” Burton said in a statement Friday. “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.”

Burton previously hosted the ceremony in 2019. In addition to being known for his roles on Star Trek: The Next Generation and in Roots, Burton is a longtime literacy advocate. He hosted Reading Rainbow for more than 20 years and has recently been fighting against book bans, appearing as the American Literary Association’s honorary chair during Banned Books Week. He also continues to share his love for reading through his podcast LeVar Burton Reads, where he narrates short fiction.

Ruth Dickey, executive director of the National Book Foundation, said in a statement, “From his role as the beloved host of Reading Rainbow to his new documentary The Right to Read, Burton’s unique and contagious passion for books has inspired countless readers. This year — more than ever before — books are at risk, and we are tremendously proud to have a champion like Burton celebrate authors, translators, and readers everywhere as the host of the 2023 National Book Awards.”

[From Entertainment Weekly]

Honestly, it should have been LeVar Burton from the start, right? While Drew was leaving her three union writers out in the wind — who were co-heads of her entire writing team, and are not returning to the show — LeVar was getting tens of thousands of people to sign a letter condemning draconian book bans and asserting that “the freedom to read is sacrosanct.” The documentary he produced, The Right to Read, doesn’t have an official release date yet, but you can watch the trailer and find info on screenings here. LeVar truly is the perfect choice, especially coming off his run as Honorary Chair of Banned Books Week earlier this month. MSNBC had him on nearly every show over the course of Banned Books Week, and all the hosts were at Bye Bye Birdie levels of excitement when interviewing him. He is hot stuff right now! The only thing sexier than his piercing, soulful eyes is his literary advocacy.

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16 Responses to “LeVar Burton to host National Book Awards after Drew Barrymore was fired”

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  1. LeVar is the perfect choice. Glad they came to their senses and chose him.

    • Josephine says:

      If only the idiots at Jeopardy could have done the same. I don’t watch that show anymore — the dude is reprehensible and gives me the heaves and the woman is an anti-vaxer and has said really, really crappy things about babies born via c-section. Gotta love when the nastiest people keep getting promoted.

      • Athyrmose says:

        I wholeheartedly agree AND am happy that LeVar will not be working with and for the the kind of people BTS that are responsible for folks like those two being greenlit.

  2. TIFFANY says:

    Was LaVar never not hot stuff. The importance of literature has always been his thing, it has not just gotten more attention due to the GOP.

  3. CommentingBunny says:

    He makes so much more sense, even without Drew’s scabby scandal. It should always have been him!

    Set phasers to love me *sobs*

  4. Lilly (with the double-L) says:

    Love this too. Great choice and, yes, ought to have been first choice.

  5. Bettyrose says:

    Why isn’t it always Levar Burton if books are involved? Or knowledge. Can you imagine if they’d chosen him for Jeopardy? Like, I’d actually watch it.

  6. Amy Bee says:

    What was the rationale for changing hosts from Levar to Drew in the first place?

  7. Deangela says:

    I love him! He has a podcast for grown-ups where he reads short stories aloud and it’s fantastic. His voice is wonderful and he picks out good stories.

  8. Flamingo says:

    I love him so much, he was a big reason why I read more as a child watching Reading Rainbow.

    He is a national treasure himself.

  9. Eowyn says:

    This man is a respected advocate and champion for reading, and literacy and autonomy/ anti-censorship. So many wonderful childhood memories from Reading Rainbow. I hope he’s treated with more respect in future, he’s loved by so many.

  10. Eurydice says:

    Great choice – Drew never made any sense.

  11. Twin Falls says:

    Well, he’s already hosted it before and when Drew was uninvited no one here was like oh I remember that year Lavar hosted bring him back, because no one was paying attention to the National Book Awards. Prior to becoming a scab, Drew Barrymore had a good amount of fans.

  12. LocaLady says:

    Butterfly 🦋 in the sky amazing

  13. Sunny O says:

    I agree LeVar Burton should have been the chosen host from the start.

    Mr. Burton has a long association with books and literacy.

    Drew Barrymore not so much.