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MTV Movie & TV Awards Features Pretaped Sketches, Acceptance Speeches and “Best of” Clips Amid Writers Strike

The 2023 MTV Movie & TV Awards featured merely a handful of explicit references to the ongoing writers strike but the non-live event clearly looked different.

The show featured numerous pretaped segments and acceptance speeches and clips both from upcoming movies and TV shows and previous editions of the MTV Movie & TV Awards. Additionally the show, awards categories and nominees and winners were announced via a voiceover, which initially referred to the event as the “2023 MTV Movie & TV Awards special.”

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Host Drew Barrymore, who announced Wednesday that she wouldn’t be hosting this year’s edition of the awards in person out of solidarity with the striking writers, appeared in a couple of pretaped sketches near the top of the show, filmed before she withdrew from her role as live emcee.

Barrymore kicked off the show in a pretaped opening inspired by her 1999 movie Never Been Kissed, dressed as her Josie Geller character in her ’80s, “Josie Grossy”-era prom dress. Seeking her first smooch, Barrymore’s Josie popped up in scenes from Nope, M3GAN, Wednesday, Top Gun: Maverick and The White Lotus, the latter with 2023 MTV Comedic Genius award honoree Jennifer Coolidge.

The segment ended with her finally getting kissed by Cocaine Bear, as Madonna’s “Like a Prayer,” which also pops up in Never Been Kissed, plays.

After her moment with the bear, Barrymore’s Josie proclaims she feels “so alive, like [she] can do anything” and repeats her line from the film, “I’m not Josie Grossy anymore.”

Barrymore also appeared in ads for show sponsor Cheetos popcorn and a pre-taped sketch in the format of a featurette for the Barbie movie, with Barrymore as “Skipper,” with the actress inserting herself in the trailer for the upcoming Greta Gerwig film. She also riffed on her rain-loving viral video by inserting herself into a scene from Wednesday.

Winners like Pedro Pascal, accepting multiple awards, and the cast of Vanderpump Rules accepted their awards via prerecorded acceptance speeches. And Coolidge delivered the show’s first reference to the strike, roughly 30 minutes into the two-hour telecast, in her pretaped acceptance for the Comedic Genius honor.

“Almost all great comedy starts with great writers, Coolidge said in part, referring to herself as “a proud member of [SAG-AFTRA],”

“I stand here before you tonight, side by side with my sisters and brothers from the WGA that are fighting right now, fighting for the rights of artists everywhere,” she continued before later invoking Shakespeare in her show of support.

“I think of the words of Shakespeare where he once said, ‘The play is the thing.’ Well, I don’t wanna put words in his mouth or anything, but I think what he really meant was, ‘it’s everything.'”

Pascal and RuPaul’s Drag Race: All-Stars winner Jinkx Monsoon later expressed solidarity with the writers in their pretaped speeches.

The show also featured clips from The Little Mermaid, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts and next week’s Yellowjackets.

Late Friday, the MTV Movie & TV Awards announced that it would shift from a live event to a pretaped ceremony that, executive producer Bruce Gillmer said, “still enables us to produce a memorable night full of exclusive sneak peeks, irreverent categories our audience has come to expect and countless moments that will both surprise and delight as we honor the best of film and TV over the past year.”

Gillmer began his statement by saying this was part of his team’s attempt to “carefully navigate how best to deliver the fan first awards show we envisioned that our team has worked so hard to create” amid the ongoing Hollywood writers strike, which began Tuesday after negotiations with studios and streamers collapsed the night before.

Until Friday afternoon, MTV had intended to forge ahead with a live show with an in-person audience Sunday night as nominees Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner and presenters Vanderpump Rules‘ Lala Kent, who appeared in a pretaped acceptance speech, and the cast of Joy Ride, including Oscar nominee Stephanie Hsu, all pulled out of the event.

None of the stars MTV previously announced as presenters for the Movie & TV Awards presented any of the awards on Sunday night’s show with such expected luminaries as Jamie Lee Curtis, Gal Gadot and Tiffany Haddish not even appearing in the telecast.

On Friday afternoon, the Writers Guild of America said it planned to picket outside of the ceremony, then set to take place at Santa Monica’s Barker Hangar.

Shortly after news broke of the demonstration, MTV announced it would pivot to a pretaped awards show, and the WGA canceled its picketing plans.

Still writers have been picketing at locations in Los Angeles and New York City since going on strike as the union seeks more transparency around streaming audiences, higher minimum pay and protections against mini-rooms and the use of artificial intelligence in writing.

Scream VI and The Last of Us topped the winners Sunday night, taking home the awards for best movie and best show, respectively, among other wins.

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