LeVar Burton replaces Drew Barrymore as National Book Awards host Barrymore was originally set to host American literature's glitziest night, until she announced her talk show would be returning during the Writers Guild strike.

LeVar Burton to replace Drew Barrymore as host of National Book Awards

LeVar Burton hosted the National Book Awards in 2019. He'll host again this year, replacing Drew Barrymore. Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images hide caption

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Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

LeVar Burton hosted the National Book Awards in 2019. He'll host again this year, replacing Drew Barrymore.

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Actor, podcaster, and reading advocate LeVar Burton will be the host of this year's National Book Awards ceremony.

In a statement Friday, Burton, who also hosted the ceremony in 2019, said, "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."

Drew Barrymore was originally slated to host the awards show – commonly referred to as the Academy Awards for literature. That offer was rescinded by the National Book Foundation after she announced she'd return to doing her talk show during the Writers Guild of America's strike. She eventually reversed that position after strike supporters picketed her show, but not before losing out on the hosting job.

"The National Book Awards is an evening dedicated to celebrating the power of literature, and the incomparable contributions of writers to our culture," read the National Book Foundation statement announcing it was parting ways with Barrymore. "Our commitment is to ensure that the focus of the Awards remains on celebrating writers and books, and we are grateful to Ms. Barrymore and her team for their understanding in this situation."

Burton is known for his role as Geordi La Forge in Star Trek: The Next GEneration, as well as for his time hosting the PBS children's show Reading Rainbow. His breakout role was as Kunta Kinte in the 1977 television miniseries Roots, based on the 1976 novel written by Alex Haley.

He's also the host of the podcast "LeVar Burton Reads," where he reads short fiction by various authors.

The National Book Awards finalists were announced earlier this month. The winners will be revealed at the ceremony, scheduled for November 15.