More than 100 writers, actors, directors and producers are speaking out against NBC’s plan to air a town hall with President Donald Trump tonight at 8 PM directly opposite the Joe Biden town hall on ABC.
In an open letter to Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell and NBCU News Group chairman Cesar Conde, the Hollywood heavyweights are asking for the Trump town hall to be shifted from the time slot. The list of those who signed the letter include the creator and cast of NBC’s flagship drama This Is Us, Law & Order: SVU star/exec producer Mariska Hargitay as well as Aaron Sorkin, J.J. Abrams, Ryan Murphy, Greg Berlanti, Ava DuVernay, Seth MacFarlane, Damon Lindelof, Kenya Barris, Phil Lloyd & Chris Miller, Adam McKay, Courtney Kemp, Tom McCarthy, Billy Porter, Seth Rogen, Ben Stiller, Allison Janney, Robert Kirkman, Julianne Moore and Amy Schumer.
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Originally, the second Presidential debate was scheduled for tonight. Trump refused to participate when the Presidential Debate Commission switched to a virtual format following the President’s coronavirus diagnosis. ABC quickly slated a Joe Biden town hall in the same slot. After lengthy negotiations, NBC, which made Trump a TV star with The Apprentice, booked him for a town hall airing at exactly the same time, a scheduling decision that has drawn wide criticism.
“By agreeing to air his town hall as counterprogramming opposite Vice President Biden’s town hall on ABC, you are enabling the President’s bad behavior while undercutting the Presidential Debate Commission and doing a disservice to the American public,” the open letter said. “We believe this kind of indifference to the norms and rules of our democracy are what have brought our country to this perilous state.”
The Hollywood creatives are not arguing that Trump should not receive equal time on NBC after the network recently aired a Joe Biden town hall from the same Florida location.
“We are simply asking that NBC air the President’s town hall either before or after Vice President Biden’s so that American voters can have the opportunity to watch both,” they said in the letter.
Here is the letter:
To Brian Roberts, Jeff Shell and Cesar Conde:
We are a group of writers, actors, directors and producers. Many of us have been lucky enough to work for NBCUniversal at some point in our careers. Some of us are currently employed at your studio. We have always thought of NBC Universal as both a terrific creative home and a brand that stands for the best in entertainment and broadcast journalism.
This is why we have been devastated to learn that you have chosen to air President Trump’s town hall this Thursday night at 8pm, directly opposite Vice President Biden’s town hall.
This is not a partisan issue. This is about the political health of our democracy.
President Trump refused to participate in the virtual debate scheduled for Thursday night by the Presidential Debate Commission. By agreeing to air his town hall as counterprogramming opposite Vice President Biden’s town hall on ABC, you are enabling the President’s bad behavior while undercutting the Presidential Debate Commission and doing a disservice to the American public.
We believe this kind of indifference to the norms and rules of our democracy are what have brought our country to this perilous state.
We are simply asking that NBC air the President’s town hall either before or after Vice President Biden’s so that American voters can have the opportunity to watch both.
We understand the necessities of business, especially in this difficult time. But we believe there are larger issues of civic responsibility at stake here.
David A. Goodman
Sterling K. Brown
Susan Kelechi Watson
A number of NBCU talent took to Twitter when NBC announced the Donald Trump town hall to object to its scheduling, and MSNBC’s top star Rachel Maddow asked Kamala Harris on air Wednesday night if she was “as mad as everybody else” at NBC News over that.
I strenuously object to @NBC giving Trump a town hall directly opposite Biden’s on @ABC. Trump pulled out of the debate to destabilize the election. I understand NBC is required to give him an hour of prime time but request that they reschedule it so that America can watch both.
— Martin Gero (@martingero) October 14, 2020
We have a show with @NBC & they have been very generous & supportive of us but giving Trump a platform against his opponent on the night of the canceled debate when Trump was the one who pulled out is really effed up. They should at least fill the town hall with Biden supporters. https://t.co/4XPqzcRSD7
— Paul Feig (@paulfeig) October 15, 2020