Should NBC replace Tracy Morgan on '30 Rock'?

tracy-morgan

Image Credit: Ali Goldstein/NBC

Four years ago, Grey’s Anatomy star Isaiah Washington was fired from the hit ABC series after using a homophobic slur during an off-camera altercation with co-star Patrick Dempsey. This week, in the wake of 30 Rock star Tracy Morgan’s anti-gay comedy routine during a stand-up show, everyone from NBC Programming Chief Robert Greenblatt and 30 Rock creator/executive producer Tina Fey to Morgan’s openly gay co-star Cheyenne Jackson have issued sternly-worded responses denouncing Morgan’s ill-conceived jokes. But even though Greenblatt went so far as to say “this kind of behavior will not be tolerated,” there’s been no talk so far about replacing Morgan on the Emmy winning comedy series.

Many readers on EW.com think the comedian should be fired for his homophobic jokes, which included saying that “the gays needed to quit being p—ies and not be whining about something as insignificant as bullying” and adding that if his son was gay he would “pull out a knife and stab that little [n-----] to death.” While a key insider at NBC says there are no plans to drop Morgan, it’s doubtful that the show would struggle without him if the network chose to make a drastic move. It would be one thing if Fey or star Alec Baldwin were to leave the single-camera comedy, but Morgan’s presence as Tracy Jordan isn’t as vital to the action when other supporting players like Jane Krakowski (Jenna) and Jack McBrayer (Kenneth) provide plenty of comedic conflict for Fey’s Liz Lemon. The writers demonstrated last season that they could write a good arc without Morgan in the mix, as they did when the actor took a leave for kidney replacement surgery. That said, 30 Rock has won three best comedy Emmys — due in no small part to the contributions of Morgan. (He also earned an Emmy nod in 2009).

Clearly, the actor appreciates the severity of his actions and continues to express remorse for what he said at a Tennessee show. On top of the statement he released Friday (“this clearly went too far and was not funny in any context”), Morgan met with GLAAD Monday in New York and released another statement, saying, “I know how bad bullying can hurt. I was bullied when I was a kid. I’m sorry for what I said. I didn’t mean it. I never want to use my comedy to hurt anyone.” He also plans to return to Tennessee to meet with those who were offended by his routine and will shoot a PSA for GLAAD.

For its part, GLAAD does not want to see Morgan lose his job. “Our goal has always been that he sends out a positive message to his fans, parents, and gay and lesbian youth. He has committed to doing that and turning this into a positive experience,” said GLAAD spokesman Rich Ferraro. “We are not asking for him to be fired from NBC.”


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  • Rx

    his comedy act has nothing to do with the show. keep him on!

    • Tommy Marx

      As a gay man who was highly offended by what I read and will no longer be watching 30 Rock, I still have to agree with Rx. What Mr. Morgan said had nothing to do with 30 Rock. He shouldn’t be fired for something that had nothing to do with his show. I no longer want to support him in any way, but that’s a personal choice. Producers should not fire him for being offensive in a context unrelated to 30 Rock.

      • luke

        PS by “get over it” i don’t mean you specifically, tommy, my comment went to the wrong spot.

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      • Woot

        If that’s what you believe why would you stop watching 30 Rock? GLAAD doesn’t want him to get fired, and he is visiting gay and lesbian teens and filming a PSA.

      • Obvious Man Says

        it IS related to 30 Rock if, by his actions, viewers start tuning out, which many who have been offended by his statements, contend they will stop watching. And it’s related to his full time job in a different way, even at his stand up act he’s representing 30 Rock, the same way I represent my company in my “free time”….if I were to go on a drug related binge on the weekend, or as Tracy did, offend an entire class of people, my employer could easily fire my a$$. It’s called employment at will and no employer needs that kind of publicity.

      • Bob

        Sorry, but anyone who works for a living knows that you still represent your employer, even when you’re off the clock. If you do something publicly to bring negative attention to your employer, there’s a good chance you’ll be fired. Or at least suspended for a while w/o pay. That’s the corporate life.

    • TJ. Church

      You’re right; He’s not funny regardless. (On the show, it’s the writing.)

      • sarah

        seriously, the man can’t come up with anything even vaguely funny unless someone writes it FOR him.

        i love the show, but if alec baldwin is leaving, i say it should end. tracy has felt really unreliable and unfunny for the past two seasons.

      • jake

        Fire him, becausde if I see his fat bigot face on Tv any longer, I might be tempted to beat him down myself.

      • just sayin

        His character would have probably siad the same thing. What he said tells a lot about him. I don’t think this should be an issue. While it is not acceptable to be a hater, Mr. Morgan was talking about himself and exposed his prejudice. So now you know. OK, it’s his problem. Get over it. At least you know. I am sure he meets many people who hate blacks but they still kiss his ass!

    • Fi

      Agreed. Isaiah Washington stepped out of line while on the job to a co-worker. As upsetting as Mr. Morgan’s “jokes” were, they were specifically directed at his co-workers nor in the workplace. It is a different situation. He deserves severe chastisement, but I don’t think this in and of itself should be a fireable offense.

      • Fi

        Meant to say they “weren’t” specifically directed at his co-workers

      • Miss Talk

        OMG, do people read what they write? “He deserve severe chastisement”, should NBC or 30 Rock whoop his black a%s or something?
        Sometimes people want to help but they make the whole issue look 10 times worse in one sentence.
        Keep it coming, NAACP is two feet away to jump into this and take this mess to a whole new level. Fun.

    • Meso Soup

      Fire his a$$
      there is comedy and then there is hate. words can be dangerous. there are better things to joke about in this world

    • stu

      he should never have been hired. tracy=not funny!!!

      • Luke

        I never thought Morgan was funny in the first place either. The producers need to do what they feel is right and not be bullied by outside influences, but they might as well know that if they ditch Morgan, not too many people will miss him.

    • Marc

      He is by far the most awful character of that show, fire him or not won’t change that. However, I think the writers should make Tracy gay on the show and if the actor quits over that, hire “Angie” as full time. That character is amazing!!!

    • Frank Anderson

      No… I kind of thought this whole thing was overblown until I hard what he said. I can’t defend what he said at all. This was too far, plain and simple.

      • Frank Anderson

        *heard

  • abc123

    Fire. Him. Now.

    • Liz

      I agree. I don’t want to live in a super PC society where there is no sense of humor, but what he said was not only not funny and mean–it was also very dangerous.
      Tina Fey needs to go further and fire him. To me what he said is actually worse than Washington saying the F word.
      GLAAD doesn’t want him fired? I’m sorry but GlADD is kind of a joke.

      • hannibal

        lynette rice: washington was not fired because of his slur. he was fired because he repeated it on glibly on air. people were well willing to forget it till he did that.

      • Davad

        Washington also grabbed TR by the throat at one point. Tracy is just an idiot.

      • kristin

        For what it’s worth, I don’t think that whether or not he gets fired is up to Tina Fey. I’m sure his contract is with NBC. And she is not his babysitter either, although he does seem to need one!

    • Matt

      It’s words, and words from a famously-bombastic comedian, not a politician. I don’t think this is as much about morality as it is about being PC; you can make fun of fat people still, catholics, and mormons, but you’ll become anathema overnight if you say something about gay people. What he said was violent, gross, and went waaaayyy too far, but he’s Tracy Morgan, a stand-up comedian who is known for going too far. He should be scolded by people, he should be embarrassed, he should meet with people, but its time to stop; like much of our culture, this isn’t about creating a dialogue, and educating people who are anti-gay, it’s about punishing people who don’t immediately conform or pay lip service to pc culture. That is wrong, too.

      • Meso Soup

        “pull out a knife and stab that little [n-----] to death” is not the same as making fun of fat people, catholics and mormons.

      • Matt

        It doesn’t need to be exactly the same to be similar. No one is really talking about Tracy being potentially violent to his children, NO ONE is talking about that. That’s obviously hyperbole. That’s my point. We can aim hyperbole and vitriol in other directions without this kind of repercussion, and that is wrong.

      • Matt

        Let’s agree that we shouldn’t bully ANYONE, and that if someone does, we need to remember that everyone at some point in there life will have some sort of prejudice, and that extending a hand and starting a dialogue is superior to smugly ignoring people who don’t have our beliefs, and then smash them the second that they reveal they’re not as elevated as we are. Can you imagine what would happen if we actually tried to talk to and convince people who were anti gay, instead of feeling so good about ourselves for being so philosophically advanced.

      • @ Matt

        Well said and I agree with everything you said. Even the point of him being violent to his son but NO ONE is even talking about that. There are jokes for Jews, Blacks, Mexicans, Asians, Over weight people and others but you say a gay joke and the world is turned upside down. He went too far but to say he should be fired is just idiotic

      • Ruby

        Agreed, Matt. Couldn’t have put it better myself. PC apparently only applies to being gay… What a nice world we live in when you can insult someone’s religion (only Christianity of course) but God forbid you call someone gay!

      • @@Matt

        I am gay and do not think he should be fired as it was not related to the show and I also didn’t even hear the supposed joke! I think the intent of the joke was that he didn’t want his child to be a whinning p**** but it turned a dark corner and presented us with a violent and distrubing image which was not funny and sounds offensive for a couple of reasons. I think the violence towards any child (gay or straight) is what is distrubing and people should understand that. He should apologise for bad taste and do a public service announcement.

      • @ Matt;just sayin

        Thank you. And it did not turn violent. It was Tracy’s attempt at comedy. How many people joke “I wanted to kill him”. Freedom of speech, freedom to not watch Tracy.

  • Ana

    I was hoping he wasn’t gonna come back anyway. He is so not funny on this show. Everytime he shows up on screen I grit my teeth and prepare for his grating voice/personality. Hopefully this will speed up the proccess.

    • tb

      exactly.

  • whatevs

    While what he said what horrendous, I hope that those close to him accept his apology since I know that most strangers won’t. It’s a very unforgiving society since everyone seems to think they’re perfect.

    • Ap

      This!

      Jeez…if all of us common folk lived in the public eye we’d be screwed. People in glass houses…

    • Glenn Lennox

      He only replied once he realized his comments might affect his career and his pay packet.
      His apology was fake and designed to save his career.

      Let’s give someone else a chance in that role. Someone who is smart enough to appreciate it and not let it go to their heads.

      • Twenty

        What in the world are you talking about?

      • Joy

        OK, Glenn, it may have been fake, and maybe he doesn’t believe it right now, but give a chance in his role as “apologant” (I know that’s not a word, but it works) and maybe he will learn a new way to think. He deserves a chance, at least.

      • XanderLJ

        You’re an IDIOT!! Tracy IS Tracy Jordan, NO ONE can or should replace him. Your moronic idea would just result in some actor IMITATING Tracy. Puh-Leeze!!

  • Devin

    Listen..I am a gay male and yes..I don’t believe people should joke about hurting gay people for who they are but I also believe in the rights of others who makes a living with jokes. GLADD should loosen up and STOP going after everyone! Tracy was just joking (it’s his job!) I do believe in FREEDOM OF SPEECH! and he deserve to do his job without people taking things too seriously! Come on people, loosen up!

    • simmer

      I think you need to read what GLADD said and then you loosen up.

    • Audrey

      I completely agree Devin, GLAAD (and other organizations like PETA and NAACP that are more like watch-dog gropus trying to draw attention by lambasting people for slip-ups) needs to chill. I am 100% for equal rights and on a more basic level, for treating people as you would want to be treated. However, we as a country can’t keep going after every single person and demanding their head when we don’t like what they say. It’s tiring to watch this same cycle over and over in the media, and it all starts with these watchdog groups.

    • Glenn Lennox

      GLADD are trying to protect gay people from hate crimes – many of which involve violence and death – yes even here in the US in 2011 ! Let’s all remember that gay people in the US still have virtually no legal protections and even where there are local laws the state police choose not to treat crimes against gay people in the same way as crimes against straight people.
      Anyone remember Matthew Sheppard ? The young men who murdered Matthew were not outcasts from society – they were the boy next door who listened and laughed to this kind of “comedy” then thought it would be a laugh to take it further and murder someone gay. After all when rich, famous people like Tracy Morgan are encouraging stabbing gay people then it must be OK surely ? He gets paid a lot of money and gets a lot of applause and awards for saying such things so it must be OK. That’s the message we are sending to our society if Tracy Morgan is not fired.
      If I had to choose between a rich “actor” losing his job or another person being murdered like Matthew Shepard then I know which one I would choose.
      We need to make an example of Tracy Morgan so that our young do not think it’s OK to attack and kill law abiding, tax-paying gay people. Violence is never a joke.

      • XanderLJ

        GAWD you’re dumb!!

    • Luddite

      Can we all take a second and think about what freedoms freedom of speech really guarantees? Freedom of speech means you can say what you want and the government cannot punish you. It does not protect you from others’ criticism and disagreement. And it does not protect you from being fired if your employers don’t appreciate the way you are representing them.

      • MB

        Exactly.

  • Silv

    Hmmm. Besides the extremely offensive anti-gay statement he makes, he apparently used the dreaded “N” word – but no one is chastising him for it. And he stated that if his son were gay, he’d commit a violent act upon him. And this is supposed to be funny.

  • Kate

    The difference is Tracy didn’t make the comments at work or while representing the show. Side note: On Grey’s Washington actually made the gay slur at T.R. Knight who is gay in real life. I never agreed with the making those kind of slurs, but I was sorry to see him go because whatever Washington’s flaws were personally I loved Dr. Burke on the show!

    • Ashleigh

      Exactly — the two incidents can’t be compared. Washington’s comments constituted harassment in the workplace towards another employee. He deserved to be fired. While I think Morgan’s remarks were insanely offensive, it cannot be compared to the Grey’s thing.

    • Mystic

      Washington’s comment wasn’t to T.R. Knight; it was Patrick Dempsey.

      • Glenn Lennox

        According to Katherine Heigl the comments were aimed at her friend T.R. Knight and it was Katherine who reported the incident to the media.
        If T.R. Knight had used the n word aimed at Washington he would have been fired so it was absolutely correct that Washington was fired. Gay people are equally as important as black people.

      • Ashleigh

        Washington’s remarks weren’t to T.R. Knight, but they were about him.

      • Lyndsey

        Patrick Dempsey took offense to what Washington said about Knight.

  • Bob Owen

    Tracy was joking. He’s a comedian. It was hyperbole; it was a wild overstatement.

    And he’s been dutifully censored by this episode of outrage. I’ll bet it doesn’t happen anymore.

  • Harry

    Fire him? For what, jokes? He is a comedian for goodness sakes. Why don’t the crybabies grow some twsticles.

    • cg

      Ditto

  • n8whit

    Funny that people can bash Christianity to death without a blinking of an eye from Hollywood. But you touch a whale or call gay sex gross, you get fired. Silliness.

    • Seth

      cause religion is evil

      • The Truth

        No Steth, you are evil.

      • The Truth

        …Seth.

      • Neil

        AMEN TO THAT, BROTHER!!!

      • Neil

        AND I MEANT AMEN TO THE FACT THAT RELIGION IS EVIL (BESIDES BEING MIND-NUMBING, PROGRESS-RETARDING, AND BASICALLY CHILDISH IN CONCEPT).

    • Tommy Marx

      Can you please give me an example where Christianity has been bashed to death?

      • kristi

        See Neil’s comment above yours.

    • Glenn Lennox

      Religion is a CHOICE so it’s open to jokes and discussion in a different way. If someone’s faith is so rocked by jokes or criticism then that person’s faith was never strong enough in the first place.

      • Jason Stinson

        Agreed with Glenn. Religious groups are always out to get gay people, but religion is the choice, not your sexual preference.

        I don’t think Tracy should lose his job, and I’m a gay man. But still, the religious fundies make gay people out to be godless soulless predators and then wish AIDS and hell on us.

      • David

        It’s not about faith being “rocked”, though that’s the cop-out Christian-bashers love to use to excuse their actions, it’s about the level of hate and disrespect shown to other people over their most heartfelt and (to them)important beliefs. And no, your or anyone else’s sexual orientation is not more important than someone’s deeply-held convictions of faith.

    • Dan

      I haven’t seen many comedians saying they would kill their child if they turned christian…. I might be tempted to

  • Derek Williams

    Morgan has fulsomely apologised, and in support has given highly peronsal details about having been bullied himself, because his father died from AIDS so I think it’s fair to say that he’s going to be far better value continuing.

    What he said was beyond disgusting and incredibly harmful given the number of gay teen suicides we’re seeing, but if he really sincerely means his retraction, I forgive him. Now I want him to go out there and tell everyone the truth.

  • Richard

    I am against any use of hateful terms but please, this was his comedy routine, like it or not. Dave chappelle’s jokes are almost all racist jokes, the same with George Lopez. Should they be fired from their jobs because of that? In a country that doesn’t even allow gay marriage yet, I am shocked at how much outcry there is. Hypocritical if you ask me.

    • TM

      Chappelle and Lopez do not make racist jokes. They make jokes about racism. Big difference.

    • Luddite

      Hypocritical? The people preventing gay marriage from bein legalized are not the same people who are upset about this.

  • Esox

    “The jerk store called. They’re all out of you.”
    As George learned-Sometimes it’s only funny when you think it. It doesn’t always translate.

  • Caroline Hurst

    No he should not be fired. His comments were insensitive,but generalized. Everyone has private moments of mockery-he uncovered yet another layer of discomfort toward a segment of society. Granted, his comedy routine narrative was insensitive, but so are most of the right wing gnats out there. He was doing a “comedy routine” and it flopped. More press, more money, static for those who seem have less to report about other than a poor decision. Before this, I didn’t even know who the guy was!GROW UP SOCIETY!!

  • Audrey

    Your poll is already skewed. Asking if he “deserves” to keep his job is different than asking if he should be fired. Do I think he deserves to keep his job? Probably no. But should he be fired for this? No. He said some stupid things, and they offended a lot of people. But if you don’t want to see him on your TV, then don’t watch. We can’t go around demanding people be fired when they do or say something we don’t like or agree with.

    • LOL

      He never should have been on the show. His scenes are painful. The show grinds to a halt whenever he is on screen.

    • Ames

      I don’t think he should be fired. But the honest answer to the question they posed, for me, was “yes” because I think 30 Rock is over. It had a good run, but they need to pull the plug before it gets truly painful.

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