Nine Nobel Peace laureates are calling on NBC to cancel its competition show Stars Earn Stripes as the network aired the first episode tonight. The show hosted by retired U.S. General Wesley Clark puts eight celebrities such as singer Nick Lachey and Sarah Palin’s husband Todd through military-style training including helicopter drops and long-range weapons firing. Celebrities are paired with former members of the U.S. Marines, Green Berets and other forces to compete for a cash prize that goes to a charity of their choosing. In addition to Palin and Lachey, the show’s contestants include actors Dean Cain and Terry Crews, wrestler Eve Torres, TV fitness trainer Dolvett Quince, former Olympic skier Picabo Street and boxer Laila Ali, daughter of former champion Muhammad Ali.
In an open letter to NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt, the Nobel Prize winners said “preparing for war is neither amusing nor entertaining” and asserted that “people — military and civilians — die in ways that are anything but entertaining.” NBC takes the view that “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. Signatories to the laureates’ plea to NBC included retired South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu and American anti-landmines campaigner Jody Williams.