LOS ANGELES, Oct 16 — Hollywood stars from Barbra Streisand and Ben Stiller to Julia Louis-Dreyfus and JJ Abrams have slammed NBC for scheduling a Donald Trump town hall at the same time as challenger Joe Biden's own event.
The US president and Biden will participate in simultaneous, duelling televised talks yesterday after a head-to-head debate was scrapped in the aftermath of Trump's Covid-19 diagnosis.
Trump had refused to participate in a virtual debate with his opponent, leading to Biden scheduling a solo town hall for yesterday evening on rival network ABC.
“(W)e have been devastated to learn that you have chosen to air President Trump's town hall... directly opposite Vice President Biden's town hall,” said an open letter to NBCUniversal executives signed by more than 100 actors, writers and directors.
“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 behaviour,” it added.
The letter — signed by many famous current and former employees of the NBC network — insisted it did not wish to deprive Trump of airtime, but called for his town hall to be rescheduled “so that American voters can have the opportunity to watch both.”
Stiller, Abrams, Julianne Moore, Seth Rogen and Aaron Sorkin were among the signatories.
NBC's decision had already drawn a backlash from A-listers on social media, with Louis-Dreyfus — alumnus of NBC smash hits Saturday Night Live and Seinfeld — among those tweeting “#NBCBlackout.”
“NBC has now decided that after he cowardly backed out of a debate to give Donald Trump an hour townhall opposite Joe Biden,” tweeted Streisand.
“All Trumps (sic) wants to do is win the ratings game. He is more a game show host than a President.”
The split screen spectacle comes 19 days out from the election, with Trump's reelection bid floundering.
A RealClearPolitics poll average has Biden up by 9.2 points nationally and leading in several key battleground states. — AFP