If there was a Top 10 list of reasons to scrub a celebrity’s appearance from an upcoming TV special, a sexual harassment scandal would surely come in at number one.
Minnesota Sen. Al Franken has been edited out of PBS’ David Letterman: The Mark Twain Prize special (airing Monday, 8/7c), TVLine has confirmed. The decision to cut him from the broadcast comes just days after the Saturday Night Live alum became the latest politician to be accused of sexual harassment. The network on Sunday released the following statement to TVLine:
PBS will air David Letterman: The Mark Twain Prize on Monday evening. Senator Al Franken participated in the event, but will not appear substantially in the PBS program… PBS and WETA, the producing station, felt that the inclusion of Senator Franken in the broadcast at this time would distract from the show’s purpose as a celebration of American humor.
A PBS rep tells TVLine that Franken will still be briefly visible “in the finale shot when all the cast” join Letterman on stage.
On Nov. 16, Leeann Tweeden, a model and sports commentator, came forward and alleged that Franken forcibly kissed her during a USO tour back in 2006. She also released a photo that appeared to show him groping her while she was sleeping. He has since issued an apology, which she accepted. He has also called on Congress to conduct a proper ethics investigation into his behavior.
Letterman is the 20th recipient of the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Recent honorees include Tina Fey, Will Ferrell, Ellen DeGeneres, Carol Burnett, Jay Leno, Eddie Murphy and Bill Murray.
Letterman’s Mark Twain Prize special, filmed in Washington D.C. on Oct. 23, features appearances by Murray, Steve Martin, Martin Short, Eddie Vedder, Jimmy Kimmel, John Mulaney, Amy Schumer, Jimmie Walker and Chris Elliott, as well as former Late Show bandleader Paul Shaffer, announcer Alan Kalter and stage manager Biff Henderson.
This isn’t the first time that a sexual harassment scandal has forced a network to tweak a previously recorded special. CBS recently announced that it would not feature a Kevin Spacey performance filmed as part of a Carol Burnett Show anniversary special, which is set to air on Dec. 3. Spacey, of course, was fired from his Netflix series House of Cards after being accused of multiple incidents of sexual misconduct and assault.