Several winners including Jennifer Coolidge, Pedro Pascal and Joseph Quinn paid tribute to striking Hollywood writers during a muted, pre-recorded ceremony at the 2023 MTV Movie and TV Awards.
This year’s live event, which honours fan favourites on the big and small screens, was cancelled at the last minute amid the major industry strike.
Show bosses said they were “pivoting away from a live show” as they “carefully navigate how best to deliver the fan first awards’ show we envisioned”.
The union is seeking higher minimum pay, more writers per show and less exclusivity on single projects, among other demands – all conditions it says have been diminished during the content boom of the streaming era.
The WGA said it had planned to picket the event on Sunday in Santa Monica, California, before the live show and red carpet event were scrapped.
Stars including Coolidge, Pascal and Quinn all voiced their support for those “fighting” for better working conditions in pre-recorded acceptance speeches during the show.
White Lotus star Coolidge said she stood “side by side” with those on strike as she accepted the comedic genius award, saying they were “fighting for the rights of artists everywhere”.
“You know, almost all great comedy starts with great writers,” she said.
“As a proud member of SAG (Screen Actors Guild), I stand here before you tonight, side by side with my sisters and brothers from the WGA (Writers Guild of America), that are fighting right now, fighting for the rights of artists everywhere.”
Pascal also acknowledged those “fighting very hard” for fair wages, as zombie-drama The Last Of Us, written by Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann, won best show.
The Mandalorian actor also won best hero and best duo, along with British co-star Bella Ramsey.
“Craig and Neil can’t be here,” Pascal said, as he cradled three golden popcorn trophies.
“We are all … standing in solidarity with the WGA that is fighting very hard for fair wages. We thank you, we love you.”
Quinn also paid tribute to striking writers as he accepted the award for breakthrough performance.
The British actor was recognised for his role as Eddie Munson in the Netflix hit series Stranger Things.
“I don’t think that people would connect with a character like Eddie or others in the Stranger Things universe without compassionate, intelligent, quality writing,” he said.
“Being a writer is a hard job. It deserves respect.
“If we respect each other, we can cultivate a kinder, more inclusive, more collaborative environment for everyone… that’d be nice.”
Elsewhere, the show’s top prize – best movie – went to slasher movie Scream VI.
Tom Cruise was awarded best performance in a movie for his high-octane sequel Top Gun: Maverick, sending a message to fans from the cockpit of a plane.
This year’s winners all accepted their awards via video messages with “flashback” clips of moments and performances from previous ceremonies played in lieu of live segments.
US actress Drew Barrymore had been scheduled to host the show, but pulled out in solidarity with those on strike – although she said she would return to the event in 2024.
Despite stepping down from hosting duties, Barrymore appeared in several pre-recorded sketches that parodied movies including Cocaine Bear and Barbie.
The Charlie’s Angels actress was also named the winner of the best host award for The Drew Barrymore Show.