Drew Barrymore has pulled out of hosting the 2023 MTV Movie & TV Awards just days ahead of the live show.
The TV personality made the decision to step down in support of the Hollywood writers’ strike, however, she remains on good terms with MTV as she agreed upon returning as host for the 2024 awards show.
Nonetheless, Sunday’s upcoming show must go on, and will do so hostless, MTV confirmed to Variety on Thursday. Producers have been busy making changes to the live ceremony- part of their strike contingency plans- such as taking away the pre-show red carpet, including interviews with the stars.
“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 obtained by the outlet. “Everything we celebrate and honour 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.”
She went on to 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.”
Despite Barrymore’s absence from the show, she’s still expected to make virtual appearances in several short films that were pre-taped for the telecast.
“Drew, without question, she’s been incredible. It’s hard to imagine that we’ve ever had a better experience with a host,” said Bruce Gillmer, the president of music, music talent, programming and events at Paramount Global. “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.”
Gillmer, who is also an executive producer of the MTV Movie & TV Awards, noted that “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.”
While Gillmer promises that the show still plans “on delivering for the fans,” he point black said he’s still waiting to hear back from some presenters and nominees regarding their attendance. Amongst those who were expected to attend are this year’s recipient of the “Comedic Genius” award, Jennifer Coolidge, and previously announced presenters- Tiffany Haddish, Jamie Lee Curtis, Dave Burd (“Lil Dicky”), Gal Gadot, Rodrigo Santoro, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ashley Park, Stephanie Hsu and more. “The Little Mermaid” stars Halle Bailey and Jonah Hauer-King were also originally set to appear, plus Suki Waterhouse.
As for the winners, Gillmer said the show will include some pre-taped acceptance speeches.
“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 honour the fans’ participation and also honour the talent that earn these awards,” Gillmer continued. “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 added that the show will be “super respectful of the talents’ decisions to either be involved in pre-tapes, show up or not show up, whatever they decide.”
Part of their backup plans include coverage from “athletes and celebrity chefs and all kinds of other talent that are not squarely affected [by the strike]. So we’ll be going down that road,” Gillmer explained. “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.”
Aside from the “acceptances from big talent” that the show already has, Gillmer teased that “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,” he said.
He assured that a live performance is still in tact and that exclusive sneak peeks of upcoming projects will air during the show.
“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.”