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.
Retired U.S. Army Gen. Wesley Clark is embarking on a reality TV career. The former Supreme Allied Commander Europe for NATO and former presidential candidate is set as host of NBC’s upcoming celebrity reality competition series Stars Earn Stripes, aimed at honoring America’s armed forces. The show, executive produced by Mark Burnett, Dick Wolf and David A. Hurwitz, will be co-hosted by TV personality Samantha Harris (Dancing With The Stars).
Stars Earn Stripes, which will premiere August 13 and air Mondays at 9 PM, will feature a celebrity cast that includes boxing champion Laila Ali, Sarah Palin’s husband Todd Palin, actor Dean Cain, actor and former NFL player Terry Crews, TV personality Nick Lachey, Olympic gold medalist Picabo Street, The Biggest Loser trainer Dolvett Quince, and WWE star Eve Torres. In the vein of Dancing With The Stars, the eight competitors will gather at a remote training facility where they will tackle difficult missions inspired by real military exercises. Each will be paired with an “operative” who is a member or former member of the armed forces or a law enforcement agency. The operative will coach and guide their celebrity teammate and compete alongside them. Each week one of the teams will be eliminated. All celebrities play for military-related charities.
NBC has signed overall deals with five established producers: Jason Ehrlich (ABC’s The Bachelor), David A. Hurwitz (NBC’s Fear Factor), Alex Katz (NBC’s The Biggest Loser) and Lee Metzger (NBC’s The Voice). They join America’s Got Talent judge Howie Mandel and his Alvey Production Company (Mobbed), Tom Shelly (NBC’s Love In The Wild), former NBC reality head-turned-producer Craig Plestis (NBC’s Minute To Win It) and Jason Raff (NBC’s America’s Got Talent), who also have development pacts with the network. “We have stacked the deck and look forward to continuing to work with all of these incredibly talented individuals,” said Paul Telegdy, President, NBC’s president of Alternative and Late Night Programming. Ehrlich, co-executive producer for numerous seasons of The Bachelor as well as The Bachelorette and Bachelor Pad, will be an executive producer alongside Katz and Eva Longoria on NBC’s upcoming relationship show Ready For Love. Hurwitz, who recently served as executive producer on NBC’s Fear Factor reboot, is executive producing with Mark Burnett and Dick Wolf NBC’s upcoming reality series Stars Earn Stripes.