More than 100 actors, producers and writers sent a letter to Comcast and NBCUniversal executives in protest of NBC News’ airing of a town hall with President Donald Trump Thursday night, when it will go head-to-head with an ABC News town hall with presidential candidate Joe Biden.
The evening initially was scheduled for the second presidential debate between Trump and Biden, but that was canceled when Trump declined to participate in a virtual debate format dictated by the Commission on Presidential Debates because of his COVID-19 diagnosis. The letter protests the counterprogramming of a simultaneous town hall, rather than the notion that NBC is televising Trump. It asked for the time to be moved so that voters could watch both town halls.
The who’s who letter includes NBC dignitaries such as “This Is Us” creator Dan Fogelman and several cast members; “Law & Order: SVU” executive producer Neal Baer and stars Mariksa Hargitay and Chris Meloni; and heavy-hitting producers J.J. Abrams and Ava DuVernay along with multimedia mogul Seth MacFarlane.
“You are enabling the president’s bad behavior while undercutting the Presidential Debate Commission and doing a disservice to the American public,” the letter read. “This is not a partisan issue. This is about the political health of our democracy.”
Trump’s hourlong event in Miami, the canceled debate’s intended site, crosses over with the first hour of Biden’s 90-minute production in Philadelphia.
Because the initial debate unraveled once Trump contracted the coronavirus, his former network employer NBC stipulated that it would select the moderator (“Today” anchor Savannah Guthrie) and that Trump prove he was not a health-safety risk.
“I don’t think many of us are proud of this moment,” an anonymous NBC executive told The Hollywood Reporter on top of critical tweets from former NBC executive Vivian Schiller and news anchor Katie Couric.
Before the poll results say anything about the presidential election, the television ratings might tell the story.