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As the writers strike continues to dominate Hollywood discourse, Ted Sarandos has exited a planned appearance at a PEN America event next week that was set to honor him.
The literary organization announced Wednesday that the Netflix co-CEO will no longer attend their annual gala to accept the PEN America Business Visionary Award. The event will still take place May 18 in New York as planned with Saturday Night Live’s Colin Jost as host, and Lorne Michaels remains scheduled to participate as an honored guest.
“We admire Ted Sarandos’ singular work translating literature to artful presentation onscreen, and his stalwart defense of free expression and satire,” PEN America said in a statement. “As a writers organization, we have been following recent events closely and understand his decision.”
The group added that the event will include a focus on the rise of book bans and the constraints surrounding comedy as it seeks to continue supporting threatened writers across the globe.
In his own statement, Sarandos said he was dropping out to help keep attention on the event. “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,” he said. “I hope the evening is a great success.”
Held at the American Museum of Natural History, the annual gala celebrating the literary arts is set to honor Michaels with the PEN/Audible Literary Service Award.
Other guests scheduled to appear at the gala include Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Candace Bushnell, Robert Caro, Susan Choi, Jennifer Egan, John Griffin, Marlon James, Min Jin Lee, Jay McInerney, John Mulaney, Theresa Rebeck, Bartlett Sher, Gary Shteingart and Gay Talese.
The Writers Guild of America called for its first strike in 15 years after failing to come to terms with the Hollywood studios — represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers — on a number of key issues including streaming residuals, the use of mini-rooms and the guidelines for AI.
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