This Is Us, Law & Order: SVU Actors Among 100 Top Hollywood Creatives Speaking Out Against NBC News’ Trump Town Hall

By A.J. Katz 

UPDATE (11:45 a.m. ET): In a statement to The Wall Street Journal, NBC News Group chairman Cesar Conde said: “We share in the frustration that our event will initially air alongside the first half of ABC’s broadcast with Vice President Biden. Our decision is motivated only by fairness, not business considerations.” He noted that NBC scheduled Mr. Trump at 8 p.m. because it had given the same slot to Mr. Biden in a previous town hall and it wanted to keep all things equal between the two candidates. Also, starting at 9 p.m. would still have conflicted with the ABC broadcast, which lasts for 90 minutes while NBC’s is an hourlong event. 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.”


ORIGINAL POST (10:53 a.m. ET):

NBC News has caught a good deal of flak over the past 24 hours for scheduling a town hall with President Trump directly opposite ABC’s town hall with Joe Biden, an event that had been scheduled multiple days in advance.

The criticism of NBC’s move has mostly come from on-air news talent at other networks, media and people on Twitter.

As first reported by THR, more than 100 top showrunners, producers and stars have sent a petition to Comcast and NBCUniversal executives protesting the timing of tonight’s town hall with Trump, the former NBC employee-turned-commander-in-chief.

The list includes actors from NBC’s top shows, like Law and Order: SVU’s Mariska Hartigay and Chris Meloni, as well as with This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman and stars Sterling K. Brown, Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia.

The petition—sent to Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, NBCUniversal chairman Jeff Shell and NBCUniversal News Group chairman Cesar Conde—told the execs, “you are enabling the president’s bad behavior while undercutting the Presidential Debate Commission and doing a disservice to the American public.” They continued: “This is not a partisan issue. This is about the political health of our democracy.” The group includes such current top NBC talent as Chris Meloni and This Is Us star Sterling K. Brown as well as heavyweights Aaron Sorkin, Greg Berlanti, Ryan Murphy and Seth MacFarlane.

Here’s the full 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 NBCUniversal 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 8 p.m., 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.  


  1. Aaron Sorkin
  2. Adam McKay
  3. Adam Scott
  4. Alex Barnow
  5. Allison Tolman
  6. Amy Lippman
  7. Amy Schumer
  8. Aubrey Plaza
  9. Ava DuVernay
  10. Ayelet Waldman
  11. Ben Stiller
  12. Billy Eichner
  13. Billy Porter
  14. Brendan Gall
  15. Chelsea Handler
  16. Chris Bishop
  17. Chris Meloni
  18. Chris Miller
  19. Chris Sullivan
  20. Chrissy Metz
  21. Courtney Kemp
  22. Dahvi Waller
  23. Damon Lindelof
  24. Dan Fogelman
  25. Daniel Hageman
  26. David A. Goodman
  27. David Guggenheim
  28. Debra Messing
  29. Ely Henry
  30. Emily Gordon
  31. Eric Guggeheim
  32. Greg Berlanti
  33. JJ Abrams
  34. Jason Moore
  35. Jennifer Yale
  36. Jill Knox
  37. Jim Parriott
  38. Joe Mantello
  39. Jon Cryer
  40. Jon Hamm
  41. Jon Huertas
  42. Josh Gad
  43. Josh Singer
  44. Julianne Moore
  45. Julie Plec
  46. Justin Hartley
  47. Keith Powell
  48. Kenya Barris
  49. Kevin Hageman
  50. Kumail Nanjiani
  51. Laeta Kalogridis
  52. Latoya Morgan
  53. Mandy Moore
  54. Marc Guggenheim
  55. Mariska Hargitay
  56. Marti Noxon
  57. Martin Gero
  58. Matthew Lopez
  59. Max Mutchnick
  60. Michael Chabon
  61. Michael Green
  62. Michele Fazekas
  63. Milo Ventimiglia
  64. Neal Baer
  65. Nicholas Stoller
  66. Nicole Yorkin
  67. Otmara Marrero
  68. Parvesh Cheena
  69. Patton Oswalt
  70. Phil Lord
  71. Preacher Lawson
  72. Robert Kirkman
  73. Ryan Murphy
  74. Samuel Baum
  75. Sarah Schechter
  76. Sarah Silverman
  77. Sarah Treem
  78. Seth Grahame-Smith
  79. Seth Rogen
  80. Shakina Nayfack
  81. Sophia Bush
  82. Sterling K. Brown
  83. Sunil Nayir
  84. Susan Kelechi Watson
  85. Tara Butters
  86. Terry Matalas
  87. Thor Freudenthal
  88. Tom McCarthy
  89. Tony Kushner
  90. Travis Beacham
  91. Vanessa Taylor
  92. Zoe Lister-Jones
  93. Ken Olin
  94. Abbi Jacobson
  95. Alison Janney
  96. David Kohan
  97. Robert King
  98. Malcolm Spellman
  99. Seth MacFarlane
  100. Marjorie David
  101. Donald Faison
  102. Chris Misiano
  103. David Goyer
  104. Julie Martin
  105. Joss Whedon

An NBC Entertainment legend calling out her former network:

And Conan O’Brien joined the outrage, hilariously referencing his own 2010 exit from NBC’s The Tonight Show, when the network opted to reinstate Jay Leno as host.