The military trainers of "Stars Earn Stripes," which could… (Chris Haston / NBC )
"Stars Earn Stripes," NBC's military-themed reality competition show in which celebrities compete in a series of physical challenges, debuted Monday to a modest audience of 5.1 million viewers. But based on the number of people voicing their displeasure with it, it could be the most controversial show of the summer.
The show, which features former Delta Force, Navy SEALS, Green Berets and Marines training celebrities such as Nick Lachey, Todd Palin and WWE wrestler Eve Torres in everything from helicopter drops to long-range weapons firing, has received heavy criticism from veterans groups, Nobel Peace Prize winners and Sharon Osbourne.
The complaints began before the show's debut, when Osbourne announced she wasn't returning to "America's Got Talent" because her son Jack had been dropped from the show after revealing he'd been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. (NBC has denied Osbourne was ever officially hired on the show and told the New York Post it regrets "any misunderstanding.")
On Monday, nine Nobel Peace Prize winners, including Bishop Desmond Tutu sent a letter to NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt, producer Mark Burnett and host retired U.S. Army General Wesley Clark, among others, calling for NBC to cancel the program.
According to Associated Press, the Nobel Laureates protested the show on the grounds that it glorifies war and violence.
Several veterans also criticized the show during a live discussion on the Huffington Post on Tuesday. Even Stephen Colbert mocked the show Tuesday, saying, "I’m sure the 80,000 U.S. soldiers risking their lives in Afghanistan are wondering why they let their agents talk them into that."
In a statement, NBC responded, saying, "'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."
In its review, The Times' Robert Lloyd said, "Whatever else you make of it -- and it's enough to say that if you like this sort of thing, you will like this thing -- it's all, or partly, for a good cause."
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