Drew Barrymore disinvited from National Book Awards

From Nathan Bransford:

Actress and (as I only learned this week) talk show host Drew Barrymore sparked an immense amount of controversy this week as she announced the return of her show The Drew Barrymore Show without union writers, who are on an ongoing months-long strike. Writers including Colson Whitehead noted the irony that Barrymore was slated to host the upcoming National Book Awards. Sure enough, the National Book Foundation announced that Barrymore would no longer be hosting. Barrymore also released a completely incoherent statement, including that she was acting with, well, whatever “astute humility” means and that “I hope for a resolve.” Who needs writers, right?

Link to the rest at Nathan Bransford

PG says trade unions are outmoded in today’s economy.

35 thoughts on “Drew Barrymore disinvited from National Book Awards”

    • Peak Hollywood has arrived, and the entertainment industry is neither entertaining nor industrious any longer. Comic book movies, the dying movie world’s equivalent of fracking, have finally played out.

  1. I’ve been semi-following the strike. Apparently a sticking point is that the writer’s union wants the networks / streaming services to become a jobs program, where you have a guaranteed number of writers in the writers’ room. I think the number bandied about at one point was 40 writers for a show.


    1) We’re no longer in the days when shows were 20+ episodes in a given season for a given show. Per Memory Alpha, Deep Space 9 had a core of 9 writers for seven seasons. I’m basing this on the number of writers who wrote 10 or more episodes. Each season was 20+ episodes. Netflix shows are often 8 episodes, e.g. Stranger Things. So the guild is really asking to have writers paid to do nothing.

    2) The current crop of writers have been steadily destroying IPs and driving away audiences, so they can’t claim to add value. They don’t create franchises, they end them: “We don’t know how to write trial scenes,” said the writers paid to write about a lawyer protagonist.

    3) Show runners are talking about just doing the writing themselves. Remember how JMS was famously the sole writer on Babylon 5? Sole writer after season 1, with I think a one-off episode written by Neil Gaiman. Precedent set, and he was writing 20+ episodes a season. No sweat to just do 8.

    4) A lot of the purse holders are using the strike to get rid of underperformers. The bell tolled for J.J. Abrams and Mindy Kaling, and it’s not to going to stop for the lesser-knowns.

    5) Also the purse-holders were willing to agree to a most of the terms, but the sticking point is the writer’s room. They’re not going for it, and they hold the whip hand.

    The writers’ room sticking point just reminds me so much of car unions, and why my parents and oodles of others in my Rust Belt state ended up out of a job. Not confident this current strike won’t end in tears for the better writers on whose “behalf” the union is negotiating. The rest can pound sand.

    • Have you seen the striking auto worker demands?


      And this is from CBS, not Fox:

      “United Auto Workers – the union that represents workers at the Big Three automakers in Detroit – on Friday launched a historic strike over stalled contract negotiations. One of the changes the union wants to see is a four-day workweek, working 32 hours for 40 hours of pay”

      Over at Fortune:

      “The union has asked for 46% raises in general pay over four years — an increase that would elevate a top-scale assembly plant worker from $32 an hour now to about $47. In addition, the UAW has demanded an end to varying tiers of wages for factory jobs; a 32-hour week with 40 hours of pay; the restoration of traditional defined-benefit pensions for new hires who now receive only 401(k)-style retirement plans; and a return of cost-of-living pay raises, among other benefits.

      Perhaps most important to the union is that it be allowed to represent workers at 10 electric vehicle battery factories, most of which are being built by joint ventures between automakers and South Korean battery makers. The union wants those plants to receive top UAW wages. In part, that is because workers who now make components for internal combustion engines will need a place to work as the auto industry increasingly transitions to EVs.”

      Right. Because the EV industry that is locating in right to work states is going to invite in the UAW.

      Classic Crazy Eddie: at a time when Detroit automakers are skirting close to bankuptcy trying to catch up to EV companies and running out of cash to reinvent themselves to meet government mandates, *this* is when Cray Eddie takes the workers on strike to increase the companies operating costs. (Higher 40 hour pay for 32 hours is a human right!) And makes increasing automation even more cost effective. Crazy Eddie indeed.

      Good thing China isn’t (yet) exporting their excess EV capacity to the US. Only Europe and the rest of the world. Oh, right…

      • Crazy Eddie? Far from it. Demanding more money is coldly rational in this case, like servants who carry off the silverware and other valuables as the master’s unattended corpse lies cooling in the bed upstairs.

        Barring some major scientific breakthrough (and there haven’t been any of those since 1970, as Peter Thiel and others have noted), electric cars are a concept doomed to failure, the same as all green tech. Everyone, including EV proponents, knows the requisite energy density is just not there, but pointing out that it is all obvious nonsense will get one labelled a science-denialist.

        No, the unions might as well stuff as much cash down their coveralls as they can now, before the whole trillion-dollar scam comes crashing down, just as the billionaire-class is now frantically grifting off of the late-stage Globalist American Empire, which will no longer be extant in ten years.

      • Local talk radio is all over this, but I turned it off when I tuned in for a minute. One guy complaining he doesn’t want Mary Barra to have so much money — not because he doesn’t think she performed her job well as CEO of GM. Nope, he just doesn’t people should be allowed to have salaries in her range.

        But getting paid higher for less work is very on brand. After 2008 when GM et al were seeking bailouts, someone linked to an Atlantic article that talked about the consequences of the Crazy Eddie tactics of the UAW and company. Factories closed, multitudes unemployed, etc. Then I noticed the date on the article, and I was shocked to discover it was from the 80s. I thought it had been written within the month I was reading it (Based on the reporter’s surname I think it was this one: Voting for Unemployment)

        “So they never learn?” I said aloud. “This happened before, and they just never learn?”

        Like a G.I. Joe villain, they never learn.

    • Additionally, my own suspicion is that good writers are being disproportionately excluded from Hollywood jobs of late, since they are the ones most likely to say something in a writers’ room that is (to steal a phrase from Gore Vidal) insufficiently dull, thereby triggering the blue-haired cohort, all of whom have a well-worn path in the carpet that leads to HR.

        • That would be like asking the Soviet army to get rid of zampolits, given that the function of communist-era political officers was the same as that of Human Resources and its blue-haired informants is today. Not a good plan.

        • I hope I don’t sound overly cynical, but having grown up in Metro Detroit (union country) and being at an employer where the UAW was there (though we were not at all factory workers or industrial in any way), I am … intrigued … by the idea of a union concerned with the quality of workers. Is that a thing?

          Quality? It’s all about the dues. That’s it. They can use dues to lobby and pay cash to their favored politicians, but none of their work rules are geared toward ensuring quality. Hence our public schools, where Johnny can’t read, but a blue-haired activist will spend all her time convincing him to chop off his family jewels.

          From what I’ve been hearing, though, the purse holders are using the strike as force majeure to get rid of the faction with aposematic hair. They almost immediately fired their heads of DIE, where activists were clustered. This was the first clue they know who burned their toast instead of buttering it.

    • In fairness to the writers, having a couple of more of them than you really “need” wouldn’t even make a rounding error on the budget for most productions, so I’m not entirely sure why the execs are digging in their heels so hard over this.

      That having been said, I suspect 40 was either an exaggeration or a “now make us a counteroffer,” because that’s just a recipe for too many cooks spoiling the broth, and the writers have to know that.

        • I hold no brief for the denizens of Hollywood, be they woke screenwriter’s suspiciously eager to promote the joys of hormone-blockers to innocent prepubescents or mobbed-up producers eager to portray the cinematic glories of war against whomever the neocons have designated the latest Next Hitler.

          That said, we would do well to remember that even the famously efficient and productive Japanese make a point of employing a great many elevator operators, washroom attendants, and so on, their numbers drawn largely from the left side of the Bell Curve.

          To maintain wa or social harmony costs money, but the lack of it can cost a society absolutely everything.

          • I get what you’re saying about wa, and I approve of this idea for people who genuinely can’t do more than this.


            The excess writers of the blue-hair faction wield a social power that the janitors don’t. If they’re rightfully sidelined, or if an actual writer / director / showrunner attempts to teach them how to write, tell them where they’re going wrong, fixes their script, etc., they can lob accusations.

            For years people have been afraid of these you’re an “ist-o-phobe” accusations. They had the power to ruin careers or cancel people. Even now, they’re still salty that Jenna Ortega fixed their scripts for “Wednesday.” Writers for “The Witcher” accused Henry Cavill of hating women because he wanted them to stick to the lore. As a group they’ve poisoned the well and salted the earth to keep themselves above criticism or correction.

            These people need to get gone. Social harmony can be maintained by getting rid of them, and apprenticing junior writers who actually want to learn and have a work ethic.

            • I quite agree. That is why I took pains in the above comment to differentiate between those innocent souls mainly fit for cognitively undemanding tasks such as pushing a broom and the freakazoids, gender goblins and (in a metaphorical sense) lizard people who infest Hollywood.

              But you have given me a good excuse to point out that a growing number of Americans are experiencing a preference cascade. They now understand that it is them or us, and come the inevitable Thermidorian reaction that is already brewing, it will be necessary to disempower not just the aforementioned Hollywood crowd, but also the professors of Critical This and Critical That, the HR Stasi, the DEI and ESG shills, the transgender-industrial complex, the neocons, the Trust and Safety boards, etc., etc., etc. And while I personally would have no moral qualms whatsoever about going all Colonel Kurtz on the whole lot, I am reliably informed that I have anger management issues.

              It is therefore conceivable that the maintenance of social harmony might best be served by less extreme and more politic methods, such as pensioning some off and giving others undemanding make-work jobs. That way the rest of us can get on with digging out from under the civilizational rubble in relative peace.

            • One point about hollywood’s gerontocracy: those old school producers they decry are the last remnant of the big writing room full-year jobs the guild covets. Without Wolf, Bruckheimer, and the few remaining legacy production houses and their franchises there wouldn’t be *any* year long jobs.

              The likes of Moore, Shankar, Echevarria (STNG expats, all) have all evolved to exploit the short season format. Berlanti and Rhimes are the youngest of the “new” generation big producers and they are hardly fresh faces. And Rhimes’ company, while successful, is a one-note operation welded to ABC. Berlanti at least spread out from DC superheroes on CW to other genres and distribution “channels” but he too is a wee bit too Hollywood to go too far afield and produce something like YELLOWSTONE or LONGMIRE. And he is very much a cost-containment producer. His writing rooms are small and focused.

              Getting rid of the old timers won’t bring nirvana to the guild, just formalize the new normal. As usual, “be careful what you ask for…”.

              The law of unintended consequences awaits everybofy.

            • No, not writers. I thought I addressed that point above, but to reiterate:

              Your question seemed to suggest that the unneeded should simply be discarded from the workforce. I was responding with the point that certain hard-and-fast rules meant to promote economic efficiency can often have a hidden price tag, especially when it comes to those who have strong backs and weak minds. Your typical She-Hulk writer, on the other hand, clearly doesn’t have what it takes upstairs to script a decent movie, but she should be perfectly capable of being a clerk at Walgreens, or who knows, someday even an assistant manager. The sky’s the limit!

        • Because while they might not be necessary they might be helpful?

          Leaving a little slack in the system means there’s room for things to go wrong without there being a catastrophe.

    • The Writers strike is quite similar to the auto workers strike. They are both functioning as though there were no alternatives to working with them. They completely ignore the market in the rest of the world.
      The use of English is rising throughout the world. It is the default 2nd language just about everywhere. With that in mind, treating your special little guild as a gatekeeper is foolish. What do producers care about your monopoly? They will just produce works written by writers not tied to your guild.
      In essence, they will outsource that work. And, there isn’t a thing that the Writers Guild can do about it.
      Viewers have become receptive to shows from other countries – from Power Rangers to Bollywood to British shows to the new Asian blockblockers, Buy American film is a lost cause.
      Same with the autoworkers. This isn’t the 50s and 60s – MANY Americans own cars from other countries. In my house, we own a Hyundai (our 7th car from that company – they provide stellar service on a good line of cars) and a Volvo (my husband’s 2nd one). We just bought our granddaughter a Nissan (my son also drives one).
      We aren’t alone. I feel confident that this strike will break the unions.

      • Neither group benefits from encouraging the market from finding alternatives yet rather than focusing on their actual needs (for an attainable deal) they throw in unattainable demands.

        The broadcast networks, in particular, can and will bring in canned material from elsewhere to outwait the guild. The rest of the workers? Not quite. That why the picket line crossings have begun.

        It’s not just consumers who have choices.

      • When the Hollywood strikes began, a lot of people asked, “Do they know about Squid Game?” As in, we can watch K-dramas and shows from all over the world now. British shows have been a staple of PBS since forever, and for years now they’ve been on streaming platforms. A few years ago my parents were watching “The Straits” from Australia, and the original version of “Secrets and Lies” (the one remade with Ryan Phillipe). Pitch Meetings, The Critical Drinker, and Honest Trailers (YouTube channels) were raving about “RRR,” which really was as fun as promised.

        With content the whole world over to choose from, who notices the strike, really? It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, and the strikers need to proceed accordingly.

        As for the car companies, like I said above, they never learn. My first car was a Nissan Sentra, then a Corolla, and lately an Elantra. That’s because I grew up with American cars that broke down all the time, even in their first week when you bought them brand new. It was infuriating, especially if your family was frugal and needed the cars to be reliable.

        • Most of the HALLMARK content is canadian sourced.
          Ditto for the CW superhero shows. And they were still too expensive for the new owners of the network. Not enough viewers.

          The hollywood writers biggest problem is the same as the UAW: the “big money” they want doesn’t exist. Their mental baseline is 2020-21, the peak of the pandemic era, when the studios were throwing money at any wannabe writer that could walk, just to throw stuff out to see what stuck. But once the pandemic ended, the other forms of entertainment came back. Streaming viewership shrunk back to its natural size and the big bucks they dream of just aren’t there.

          Worse, just like with books, streaming is diluting the market for hollywood content by making it compete with older known good backlist content.

          My mother is a big fan of the LAW AND ORDER shows. When the season ended, she moved to MAX to binge COLD CASE and THE FRANKIE DRAKE MYSTERIES; currently WITHOUT A TRACE. Next up, I have NERO WOLFE for her. If I can’t find it on a streaming service in HD or 4K I have it on DVD and the XBOX upscales brillantly. She loved POLDARK and OUTLANDER. CARDINAL. Netflix and HULU are loaded with shows like HARROW and FOREVER.

          My sister is so a fan of mysteries, expecially the UK shows like MARCELLA and LUTHOR. PBS has the new AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 days. PEACOCK has several mexican shows like THE QUEEN OF THE SOUTH in both original and US adaptation. Likewise you can stream both the US and DANISH versions of THE BRIDGE.

          What all these and hundreds of other shows out there share in common is great writing by folks interested in telling great stories, not promoting any social agenda. And none are currently based in hollywood. Those that were, got out while the getting was good.

          The days when hollywood writers could hold a gun to the studios are gone. They are quite replaceable. And worst of all, even if the studios were wiling tocave, thdy can’t. Disney is taking offers for ABC, ESPN, and the cable channels.


          WBD is downsizing to reduce their debt load for a potential sale to COMCAST, who are tightening their belt in case WBD does become available. Netflix and Amazon have money to spend but are spending it on internet satellites and gaming. Paramount is running their streaming on a shoestring (which shoe in their quality of service) and what money they have is going to the writer/producer of YELLOWSTONE (because who knew shows that addressed the views and concerns of “flyover country” would attract viewers in hordes).

          Money is tight and the studios have better uses than supporting jobs programs and resume puffers. More, money will continue to be tight for at least the next ten years.

          The UAW might get something resembling their ask, even if it dooms the Detroit companies to also-ran status, but when it comes to the screenwriters, I’m getting a whif of PATCO.

          • I forgot all about Frankie Drake. She’s over-the-air for me, since I practically live next door to Canada. But I haven’t watched over-the-air for so long, and I never thought to check if the show was streaming. *Makes note*.

            It turns out they have made-for-TV movies of Luthor, too, so your sister should look out for those. The one I saw was about a blackmailer who forces people to commit suicide, and Luthor has to break out of prison to catch him. But why was he in prison?! I must catch up.

            because who knew shows that addressed the views and concerns of “flyover country” would attract viewers in hordes

            My father was bingeing Yellowstone, and he keeps telling me to watch it. The ultimate outcome I’m looking for is a PATCO-type scenario that allows an indie revolution, like Amazon Kindle did for authors. The Black-Death-freeing-the-serfs type of deal. More Yellowstones, more shows that are about telling good stories, and more opportunities for more people to tell them. We talked about Angel Studios; I’m hoping this strike leads to more healthy competition for them. Let everyone bring their A-game and we all win.

            • Yes, do binge Yellowstone.
              And Longmire. Both are unique among today’s TV writing. Complex nuanced characters stuck in what are effectively borderlands.

              If you liked Frankie you might enjoy MURDOCK MYSTERIES, a similar canadian roaring 20’s show that went on forever.

              The BLACKLIST was also good until the last season. But it didn’t overstay by long and the final arc was good enough.
              In the guilty pleasures, soapy fun, there is the classic aussie MACLEOD’S DAUGHTERS that outlasted its premise and its cast and can serve as a tempate for anybody writing about life on a space colony. 😉

              HARROW is effectively CSI: Australia…if the lead were HOUSE.

              And absolutely do MARCELA. If you rever watched PUSHING DAISIES you’ll be awed by how good Anna Friel can be when given material that doesn’t rely on her looks.

              Pretty much anybody doing streaming can list a dozen unique shows, even on the CW. (They have FOREVER, which is a show that ABC just plain ignored. Great premise, great acting. What do you do with an immortal serial killer?)

              The dirty secret of streaming is that there is so much good content no individual content is getting enough attention (and direct revenue) to support Hollywood in the style it’s grown accustomed to. In that, the Authors’s plaint is factual: they grew used to TV shows being “full time” year-long jobs. But the new economics of filler free, narrative TV novels only offer seasonal work for a few months at a time. Even the broadcast networks have adopted the “mini-series” model (LA BREA) and only run a few legacy shows for a “full” 20+ episode season.

              Which is how the rest of the video production world has *always* operated for both TVs and movies. So guaranteed year long employment just isn’t in the cards.

              The strike will roll on indefinitely until they accept that is the new normal: small, short writing room gigs for more focused shows that simply don’t need a dozen voices hammering out how to fill a season.

  2. BTW, you’re right about Straczynki and B5 but in 1998 he had Peter David and the irrascible Harlan Ellison each do two episodes, as well as Gaiman. 😉

    More recently, several streaming show have worked with one credited writer. Peacemaker and Good Omens 2 did it to great success.

    And Maher just brought back his HBO show (without the scripted segments) because (in his words) the strike has gone on long enough and the staff behind the cameras is hurting. He doesn’t mention that the “residuals” they went on stike for are illusory.

    Some collectivist moves are self-defeating (auto strike) or bystander damaging (writers) and hardly hurt the deep pockets they think they’re fighting.

    Timing is as important as intentions.
    Striking an industry under disruption (autos), consolidating (hollywood streamers), or just withering (b&m booksellers) is lose-lose. The auto strike will only lead to less jobs (there is still manufacturing over capacity in the unionized side of the industry) and more closed plants that are unsuitable for the government mandated EVs, even if they get a fraction of what they demand.
    The Detroit trio are playing catchup to Tesla and the Koreans and a half dozen specialty start ups and are being forced to retool using trailing edge tech and egotiate for scarce components at a time of reduced investment liquidity. And they’re not far out of bankruptcy.

    Half of their ask literally can’t be granted, period, and of the rest only salary hikes won’t destroy the viability of the companies. 40 hour pay for 32 hour work is demanding the company reduce production at each pant or hire more staff. They’ll go for plan c, close more plants and move the work elsewhere.

    • Plan C is always the result I expect these people to bring about. I staunchly refuse to join unions, even when they were posting my name on a list of hold-outs. I’ve never associated them with innovation and growth, only stagnation and destruction. As for Hollywood, showrunners are saying out loud they want to exit the union. The husband-and-wife team on Clownfish TV keep mentioning FI-CORE: “Fi-Core actors have no say in union policies and no voting rights. However, they are also not bound by the rules of the union—and in the cases of performing unions like SAG-AFTRA, that means performers can work on both union and nonunion sets and stages.”

      By going Fi-Core, an actor can be cast in any project, whether it’s union or nonunion. While the union gigs at the top of the pay pyramid do tend to be the most profitable, nonunion roles can also help a performer pay rent. The Hollywood Reporter spoke with three agency sources in 2019 about the state of the commercial world, and those insiders put the percentage of commercials that hired nonunion actors anywhere between 50–70%. In 1999, that percentage reportedly hovered around 10%. It’s led to fewer actors being able to make a living solely on commercial work, since nonunion work does tend to pay less. On the other hand, it’s also created more paying opportunities for those who aren’t in the union.

      I suspect the better writers who angry about the guild’s antics will go this route. Plus the other benefit of FI-Core is not being tied to New York or Los Angeles. Which potentially allows for more indie productions. We’ll see.

      • The thing about Plan C is that EV mandate from the gerontocracy requires massive investment in new and different manufacturing gear (gigapresses instead of engine block casting, etc). If the companies are to meet these mandates while staying open and selling what people are buying *today* (to fund the mandates) they have to do it at a different site and to different processes. A perfect oportunity to maximize automation ala Tesla:


        There are humans in the gigafactory but a lot less than at a Detroit ICE car factory.

        If the Detroit trio are to compete with Tesla they need to match their productivity. And they’re already behind on tech, battery tech, and component supplies on vertically-integrated Tesla. Appeasing the UAW is going to do nothing to help bridge the gap. Their best hope is to buy into a startup and use that separation to build a modern non-union production chain in a right to work state.

        The UAW overeach in these negotiations comes from misreading the current labor shortage as a lack of “workers” when the real shortages are of *skilled* workers in the relevant industries. And old school warm body based manufacturing isn’t where the reshoring/reindustrialization of NorthAm post-globalization is happening.

        Where it is happening, and where the shortages lie, is in the industries that went to China for cheap labor and are coming back because of cheap energy, cheap automation, and skilled workers. Productivity. And where those factories are coming back is neither Detroit nor (and this is new) California.

        Instead, they are coming to the Gulf Coast, southeast, and southwest. Look to where the new refineries, chemical plants, silicon foundries are going. And look at what kind of employees they want below.

      • I really cannot see any benefit for most actors and other performers to join, then. With the generous subsidies available for Marketplace plans, it makes little sense to sit up and beg for membership, all for the dubious benefit of health care.

    • Harlan was not irascible.

      He was permanently irasced. (After the “Cordwainer Bird” fiasco with The Starlost, who could blame him?)

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