TV's Two Adam Goldbergs Wage War Over Twitter Identity Crisis

Showrunner Adam F. Goldberg and actor Adam Goldberg explain their Twitter flap.
Courtesy of ABC; AP Images

It's a battle of the Goldbergs.

The Goldbergs creator Adam F. Goldberg and The Jim Gaffigan Show co-star Adam Goldberg are in the midst of a Twitter feud over ABC's The Goldbergs.

The flap started on Twitter when actor Goldberg (@TheAdamGoldberg) — frustrated after being mistaken for the creator behind ABC's 1980s-set comedy — tweeted fans of the semi-autobiographical series that the show was being moved to Wednesdays at 10 p.m. this summer on TV Land. That's the time slot where the long-in-the-works comedy based on Gaffigan's family life — on which actor Goldberg co-stars — airs.

Showrunner Goldberg spotted the tweet and took to his own feed (@AdamFGoldberg) to clarify that his show wasn't going anywhere — the comedy will return for its third season in its same time slot, Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. starting again in the fall — and joked that actor Goldberg's show "must be 30 mins of him whining about me." 

That led actor Goldberg to accuse the showrunner of trolling his Twitter feed. Things escalated from there and the duo traded barbs that came to a head when the actor did a live chat with the Huffington Post to promote his upcoming indie film No Way Jose — in which he stars and directs — and seemed to call the sitcom producer a "douchebag" and go on to confess that his persona is that of an "asshole."  

Actor Goldberg — whose Twitter bio up until recently made it clear that he had nothing to do with the ABC comedy — has repeatedly expressed frustration when fans of the series tweet at him with questions about the family at the show's center.

"I've had conversations with my representatives prior to the airing of the show saying that I anticipate this being an issue and how this affects me in an economic fashion," the actor told THR. "And professionally, he's negligible I'd say. But as a creative person who has been working in Hollywood for 25 years, I anticipated that it would create some confusion. Here's a show that was being promoted as an autobiographical show by a writer named Adam Goldberg and therefore it would create confusion. The issue with The Goldbergs was that character's name was Adam Goldberg [played by young actor Sean Giambrone] on the show and he's naming the kid after himself. That's fine, but I would have thought that everybody would have gotten together and said, 'Do you think perhaps that would be a bit confusing?' Regardless of what I stupidly publicly began to tweet when my in-box became barraged, as I anticipated it would, with people complimenting or criticizing or acknowledging The Goldbergs as my television show."

The actor also noted that Gaffigan initially didn't think he would be available to do his TV Land show because of the ABC comedy.

For his part, the showrunner had seen the actor's tweets about his show for the past two seasons and chose to remain silent until the time slot confusion pushed him over the edge.

"Having a similar name, this mistaken identity is something I've dealt with once or twice a week for 15 years," showrunner Goldberg tells THR, noting that once Nicole Kidman walked into his office looking for the actor. "I always took it with a grain of salt and laughed it off. Then when I got my show, I watched him for past two years be very cruel and vicious about the marketplace confusion and how my show is 'shitty' and how he'd never do a show like that. I sat by quietly bummed out that he felt this way but was never going to reply to it. The first thing he said was that he was doing a chat on Meerkat about The Goldbergs, which was very confusing to people, and then he was mean to the fans. Then I woke up this morning and everyone thought my show was on TV Land and was very confused — is it canceled? — that was the last straw. He said [in the Huffington Post interview], 'Look, I'm an asshole, that's my persona and it's a joke,' but we all work really hard on the show and I could only sit by for so long and watch him publicly bash it until I'm going to respond. I was very upset this morning. It really undermines everything we're trying to do on the show. It's cruel to the cast and crew to go out of your way to hurt the show like that. I didn't find it funny at all."

The duo have not spoken outside of Twitter but will likely come face to face for Hebrew Hammer 2, which stars the actor and is produced by The Goldbergs creator. "We've been trying to get that off the ground and prior to that, I reached out to him and wanted to have some kind of relationship with him because I've always been a fan of his," says the showrunner, who has been encouraging his mom Beverly — featured on the show played by Wendi McLendon-Covey— not to respond to the actor online. "We have the same name, he was in Hebrew Hammer and movies that I liked. I always regarded him as a fan but then to watch him meltdown for the last two years and be vicious and cruel was hard to take."

As for his message to the actor, the showrunner set a clear boundary: "I'm a comedy writer, I understand that it's frustrating and sometimes hilarious that we have same name, but messing with my show and my livelihood — which means more to me than anything — is crossing the line. If my brother Barry can deal with the fact that I'm torturing him every week [via his representation on the show], he's going to have to come to terms that my name is Adam Goldberg as well and I'm doing a show about my life. ... It's exactly why I have the 'F' (for Frederick) in my name — because of him. I don't want to be Adam F. Goldberg."

The actor, meanwhile, says he would have hoped that producers had a discussion early on about naming the young Adam on the ABC comedy something different.

"The best-case scenario for me would have been if they had chosen a pseudonym for the character that plays Adam; everything else is the same but there's no going back on this," says the actor, who has used social media to share bits and pieces from his own childhood. "What happened today is completely absurd. Do I regret it? Of course I do. It's hard for me to feel bad about posting something so absurd. I don't like getting into fights with people or things getting nasty. … I regret the fact that our lives have been conflated. My childhood is being actually erased by this confusion. That's the thing I regret." 

[Editor's note: The author of this story has no relation to either Goldberg.]

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