LeVar Burton Steps In as National Book Awards Host, Replacing Drew Barrymore Amid Controversy

In a surprising turn of events, LeVar Burton, the multi-talented actor, podcaster, and advocate for reading, is set to host this year’s National Book Awards ceremony according to NPR. This comes after Drew Barrymore, who was initially slated for the role, stepped down amid a Writers Guild of America strike. Let’s dive into the details.

The Backstory

Drew Barrymore was originally chosen to host the National Book Awards, often dubbed the “Academy Awards for literature.” However, her decision to continue her talk show during the Writers Guild strike led to her losing the hosting gig. Although Barrymore later reversed her stance, the damage was done. The National Book Foundation decided to part ways with her to keep the focus on celebrating literature and writers.

LeVar Burton: A Familiar Face

LeVar Burton is no stranger to the National Book Awards, having hosted the event back in 2019. Known for his iconic roles in “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and the PBS children’s show “Reading Rainbow,” Burton expressed his honor in returning to the stage. He emphasized the importance of the freedom to read, especially in today’s climate.

A Man of Many Talents

Burton’s career is a tapestry of impactful roles and advocacy for literature. He gained fame for his role as Kunta Kinte in the 1977 miniseries “Roots,” based on Alex Haley’s novel. He also hosts the podcast “LeVar Burton Reads,” where he narrates short fiction from various authors.

The Ceremony Ahead

The National Book Awards finalists have already been announced, and the winners will be revealed at the ceremony scheduled for November 15.

Final Thoughts

The National Book Awards ceremony is a significant event in the literary world. The host change has added an extra layer of drama but also brings back a familiar and respected face in LeVar Burton. It’s a reminder that even in the glamorous world of awards, real-world issues like strikes can have a ripple effect.

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