'This Is Us' Cast, Mariska Hargitay and More Implore NBC to Move President Donald Trump's Town Hall Time Slot
By Antoinette Bueno
Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Major stars are speaking out against NBC's decision to air a town hall with President Donald Trump at 8 p.m. on Thursday, which is the exact time when Joe Biden's town hall is airing on ABC.
The second presidential debate was originally scheduled for Thursday at 8 p.m., though it has since been canceled after Trump refused to participate in a virtual format following his coronavirus diagnosis. ABC then announced it was airing a Joe Biden town hall instead, after which NBC booked Trump for a town hall that will air in the exact same time slot.
More than 100 writers, actors, directors and producers have spoken out against the decision in an open letter to Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell and NBCU News Group chairman Cesar Conde. The letter is signed by some of NBC's biggest television stars, including Law & Order: SVU's Mariska Hargitay and Chris Meloni, as well as This Is Us stars Sterling K. Brown, Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia. More A-listers who signed the letter include Aaron Sorkin, Alec Baldwin, Ava DuVernay, Ben Stiller, J.J. Abrams, Julianne Moore, Kenya Barris and Seth Rogen.
"This is not a partisan issue. This is about the political health of our democracy," the letter reads. "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," the letter continues.
Conde responded with a statement on Thursday.
"We share in the frustration that our event will initially air alongside the first half of ABC's broadcast with Vice President Biden," the statement reads. "Our decision is motivated only by fairness, not business considerations. We aired a town hall with Vice President Biden on October 5 at 8 p.m. If we were to move our town hall with President Trump to a later time slot we would be violating our commitment to offer both campaigns access to the same audience and the same forum. We hope voters will watch both discussions -- ours will be available at any time, free and on-demand on YouTube, Peacock and all our digital news platforms."
Meanwhile, Moore tweeted, "As current NBC talent, I'm proud of our entire #thisisus cast for taking a stand and signing this. Tonight I will be watching @JoeBiden on @ABC."