Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s Chief Content Officer, has decided not to attend the PEN America Visionary Award ceremony due to the ongoing Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike and picketing on both coasts. Sarandos was set to receive the award at the literary group’s annual spring gala in New York City next week. However, he has withdrawn to avoid detracting from the event’s focus on the important work PEN America does for writers and journalists, as well as the celebration of his friend and personal hero, Lorne Michaels.
In a statement, Sarandos said, “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. I hope the evening is a great success.”
PEN America responds
PEN America, the literary and human rights organisation that was set to present the award to Sarandos, released a statement saying, “Today Netflix’s Ted Sarandos informed us that he will not be joining us in New York to accept the PEN America Business Visionary Award at our annual gala on May 18. We admire Ted Sarandos’ singular work translating literature to artful presentation on screen, and his stalwart defense of free expression and satire.”
“As a writers organisation, we have been following recent events closely and understand his decision. Our Gala program, with honorees including Saturday Night Live‘s Lorne Michaels and emcee Colin Jost, will center on the escalating campaign of book bans in this country, tightening constraints on satire and comedy, and support of threatened writers worldwide. We look forward to a moving and inspiring event that will fuel our fervent work on behalf of free speech.”
The WGA strike, which began last week, has led to paused or shut down productions and recast events. Major rallies are planned for next Monday in New York and LA. Upfront presentations by major media companies are also set to take place next week at venues across NYC. PEN America’s annual spring gala is scheduled for Thursday at the Museum of Natural History.
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