The Embassy of the Republic of Serbia
June 23, 2011
Dear Ms. Hammer:
As the executive responsible for E! Entertainment, I am writing on behalf of my Government to express our disappointment and objection to recent disparaging remarks made on the program Chelsea Lately against Serbia and its people.
While we understand the concept of late night comedy shows and appreciate Chelsea Handler's particular gift to find amusement in everyday life, we strongly object to her June 20 broadcast where she crossed the line from making fun of an individual to making fun of a nation. We find it to be inappropriate, distasteful, and just plain bad humor.
Specifically, the broadcast included commentary from Handler on a recent concert in Belgrade. Handler began by stating that she “can’t believe they even allow Serbians to go to concerts.” Later, after reading a post from the Minister of Defense’s Facebook page that the concert was a “shame and a huge disappointment,” Handler quipped “so is your country.”
It is puzzling to us how Handler could make these assertions, even in jest. Handler may be surprised to learn that Serbia is democratic country. Its people enjoy immense freedoms and Belgrade in particular is renowned throughout Europe as having one of the most vibrant nightlife scenes on the continent.
Chelsea Lately is broadcasted in Serbia via TotalTV, and Serbian viewers feel that her remarks were unwarranted, offensive, and beneath the standards of NBCUniversal, E! Entertainment, and its advertisers. In fact, many advertisers on your networks have successful operations in Serbia including Microsoft, Philip Morris, Coca-Cola, Panasonic, U.S. Steel, Merrill Lynch, and Bank of America.
We urge Handler and her producers to revisit her list of "topics that cross the line" and add her slurs against Serbia and its people to it. We also urge her to think of causes dear to her heart, such as equality. Her superior tone and statements run afoul of her honorable efforts towards achieving true equality – be it between individuals, communities, or nations.
I would appreciate the opportunity to speak with you about this incident as well as any corrective measures NBCUniversal and E! Entertainment are prepared to make.
Ambassador of the Republic of Serbia to the United States