Entertainment TV Tina Fey pulls 30 Rock blackface episodes
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Tina Fey pulls 30 Rock blackface episodes

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Tina Fey has asked NBC to pull four episodes of 30 Rock from streaming services because they show white actors in blackface.

The show’s co-creator, Robert Carlock, and owner NBCUniversal have joined Fey in the appeal.

Fey co-created, wrote and starred as Liz Lemon in the series about the backstage world of a television show.

In 2015, she brushed off criticisms about white actors dressing up as other races. But this week, in a note to distributors she wrote that she now understands “that ‘intent’ is not a free pass for white people to use these images”.

In the note – obtained by Variety – Fey said the episodes were “best taken out of circulation” and apologised “for pain they have caused”.

“As we strive to do the work and do better in regards to race in America, we believe that these episodes featuring actors in race-changing makeup are best taken out of circulation.

“Going forward, no comedy-loving kid needs to stumble on these tropes and be stung by their ugliness. I thank NBCUniversal for honouring this request,” Fey wrote.

All of the episodes will be removed by the end of this week, according to a source. Some have already been removed from Amazon and Hulu.

They will no longer air as re-runs on television, and viewers will also no longer be able to buy them from iTunes and Google Play.

The episodes in question featured Jane Krakowski’s character Jenna in blackface, as well as Jon Hamm in blackface as part of an Amos ‘n’ Andy parody, and the East Coast version of The Live Show.

News of their removal comes as many content platforms are re-evaluating content for racial sensitivity. Just over two weeks ago, HBO Max removed Gone With the Wind from its library, before re-instating it with an introduction from Turner Classic Movies host and film scholar Jacqueline Stewart.

In Australia, Netflix withdrew shows by comedian Chris Lilley, who has long been criticised for playing racially insensitive characters.

Australian streaming network Stan also removed British sketch comedy Little Britain – hours after it was dropped from all British platforms.

The creators of Little Britain, Matt Lucas and David Walliams, have apologised for their portrayal of characters of various ethnicities in the show. Each has since said they would act differently if producing the show today.

Also in June, a British streaming service dumped an episode of comedy classic Fawlty Towers, earning the scorn of star John Cleese.

“if you put nonsense words into the mouth of someone you want to make fun of you’re not broadcasting their views, you’re making fun of them,” he said.

“If they can’t see that, if people are too stupid to see that, what can one say?”

-with AAP