Nobel laureates call for end to TV's "Stars Earn Stripes"

LOS ANGELES Mon Aug 13, 2012 8:26pm EDT

Cast members Eve Torres (L), Todd Palin and Laila Ali attend a panel for ''Stars Earn Stripes'' during the NBC television network portion of the Television Critics Association Summer press tour in Beverly Hills, California July 24, 2012. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Cast members Eve Torres (L), Todd Palin and Laila Ali attend a panel for ''Stars Earn Stripes'' during the NBC television network portion of the Television Critics Association Summer press tour in Beverly Hills, California July 24, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Nine Nobel Peace laureates, including retired South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, on Monday called on television network NBC to cancel its "Stars Earn Stripes" reality show, calling it a bid to "sanitize war by likening it to an athletic competition."

The competition show, due to air for the first time on Monday evening, puts eight celebrities such as singer Nick Lachey and politician Sarah Palin's husband Todd, through military-style training, including helicopter drops and long-range weapons firing.

The celebrities are paired with former members of the U.S. Marines, Green Berets and other forces to compete for a cash prize that would go to a charity of their choice. Producers say the show, hosted by retired U.S. General Wesley Clark, will "pay homage to the men and women who serve in the U.S. armed forces."

In an open letter to NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt, the Nobel Prize winners said that "preparing for war is neither amusing nor entertaining."

"It is our belief that this program pays homage to no one anywhere and continues and expands on an inglorious tradition of glorifying war and armed violence.

"Real war is down in the dirt deadly. People — military and civilians — die in ways that are anything but entertaining," the letter said.

The Nobel-winning signatories called on NBC to "stop airing this program."

NBC rejected the assertion that "Stars Earn Stripes" glorifies war. "'Stars Earn Stripes' is about thanking the young Americans who are in harm's way every day. This show is not a glorification of war but a glorification of service," the network said in a statement.

Tutu, 80, won his Nobel in 1984 for efforts to end apartheid in South Africa. He was joined in the letter by American anti-landmines campaigner Jody Williams, Mairead Maguire and Betty Williams of Northern Ireland, former East Timor President Jose Manuel Ramos-Horta, Argentine artist Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Rigoberta Menchu Tum of Guatemala and Iranian lawyer Dr. Shirin Ebadi.

In addition to Palin and Lachey, the show's contestants include actors Dean Cain and Terry Crews, wrestler Eve Torres, television fitness trainer Dolvett Quince, former Olympic skier Picabo Street and boxer Laila Ali, daughter of former champion Muhammad Ali.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte, Dan Grebler and Bill Trott)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (3)
Patryot wrote:
Im sorry but I must respectfully disagree. Im watching the show at this very moment. It is doing nothing more that showing what type of training and missions these men do. It isnt trivalizing war or war mongering. What soldiers do is very misunderstood and often trivalized by those claiming to be pacifists. I would remind these critics it was soldiers who liberated death camps, it was priests and professors who were prisoners in them.

Aug 13, 2012 8:51pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
sootyft wrote:
When entertainers and wannabe celebrities are injured or killed like our real American heros are, I’ll give them “stripes”, donate to their charities, AND watch their show. How about these “stars” take the money they’ll be earning from the show and donate to the Wounded Warriors project, or any of the other organizations that support our troops? Of donate directly to the charities of their choice? I think the Nobel Laureates have the right idea and I’ve already decided not to watch this transparent bid for attention. Everyone associated with this project should be ashamed.

Aug 13, 2012 8:59pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
JohnnyYuma wrote:
@Sooty … that is exactly what they are doing … donating to Wounded Warrior and 5 other charities that work with our troops …

@Patryot .. very true! Priests and Professors helped send folks to the camps also …

I love the fact they have a Iranian lawyer in the group … maybe he ought to stay home and talk to his peaceful leader … and Betty Williams of Northern Ireland (actually in the US now ) saying she’s LOVE to kill George Bush … Ramos-Horta supported the invasion of Iraq … guess they only like war and killing when it benefits their causes ..

Aug 14, 2012 1:36am EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.