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Archbishop Desmond Tutu and eight other Nobel laureates protested in an open letter to NBC that the show, "Stars Earn Stripes," glorifies war and armed violence.
The series, which premiered on Monday night, pairs celebrities with inactive U.S. military personnel for simulated military challenges. Celebrity participants include boxing champion Laila Ali, Superman actor Dean Cain, Olympic gold medalist Picabo Street and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's husband, Todd Palin.
The program is hosted by retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark.
The series is billed on as a "fast-paced competition" whose contestants "will gather at a remote training facility where they will be challenged to execute complicated missions inspired by real military exercises."
The letter, sent Monday to Clark, NBC boss Robert Greenblatt, producer Mark Burnett and others connected with the show, argues "this program pays homage to no one anywhere" and criticizes it for "trying to somehow sanitize war by likening it to an athletic competition."
The letter calls for NBC to stop airing the series.
NBC, responding to the charges, said that "Stars Earn Stripes" is "about thanking the young Americans who are in harm's way every day."