Fox Talents Speak Up Over Fox News Child Separation Coverage

Seth MacFarlane, Steve Levitan and Paul Feig have criticized Fox News' reporting amid a call to action from Judd Apatow.

Judd Apatow is calling for Fox showrunners and talent to speak out against the network over Fox News' coverage of the "zero tolerance" border policy. The prolific producer's plea, posted in a series of tweets on Monday, came after Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane made a similar comment in response to Fox News' reporting over the weekend. Since Apatow's call to action, both Steve Levitan and Paul Feig have responded.

In particular, Apatow took issue with Fox News' coverage of the Trump administration's immigration policy that has separated children from their parents at the southern U.S. border — which has drawn ire from celebrities and politicians alike, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"I haven’t worked with Fox since 2002. That family promotes evil ideas and greed and corruption. We all choose who to work with. I understand why that is easier for some than others but many powerful people are powerful enough to speak up to their bosses at a moment like this," Apatow wrote of Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman of Fox News parent company 21st Century Fox.

Apatow continued: "[AG Sessions] is a fucking kidnapper! The Murdoch’s support these policies! Where are the Fox stars and executives speaking up?! Imagine if it was your kids. Who has a movie, TV show, sporting event, news show at Fox? How can you remain silent when they promote these policies?" He urged, "And I haven’t seen one new powerful person who works for or at Fox stand up and say they oppose their support of these cruel policies."

The writer and director — who last worked with Fox on his sitcom Undeclared, which ended after one season in 2002 — went on to say that "the MURDOCH family is part of this torturing of children," adding that "they own the propaganda machine."

Which is why Apatow is urging Hollywood to stand up to Fox and the Murdochs. "Fox stars and show runners should speak up! Journalists and athletes should speak up! Maybe their executives should speak up! @SethMacFarlane can’t be the only one with a conscience," he wrote, later adding: "If EVERY Fox Star and show runner said this policy was evil and protested to the Murdoch family it would make a huge difference in this national debate."

In response to Apatow's call to action, Modern Family co-showrunner Levitan, who has an overall deal at 20th Century Fox TV, tweeted, "Let me officially join @SethMacFarlane in saying I’m disgusted to work at a company that has anything whatsoever to do with @FoxNews. This bullshit is the opposite of what #ModernFamily stands for."

Levitan was responding to Fox News' Laura Ingraham saying the child detention centers are "essentially summer camps [or] boarding schools" on her show, The Ingraham Angle.

In response to Levitan, Paul Feig — who directed 20th Century Fox comedies The Heat and Spy — added that he cannot "condone" the company's support of its news division. Feig also has a first-look film deal. "I have made two films for 20th Century Fox and love the people in the movie and TV divisions," the producer-director wrote in a tweet on Tuesday. "But I too cannot condone the support their news division promotes toward the immoral and abusive policies and actions taken by this current administration toward immigrant children."

As the call continued to pick up steam, Levitan announced that he looks forward to "setting up shop elsewhere" once Modern Family ends its run. (Levitan previously told The Hollywood Reporter he expects the forthcoming season to be its last.) Levitan's overall deal with 20th TV expires in July and he has been taking meetings around town as he looks for a new studio to call home. Should Fox sell 20th TV to Disney and ABC take over ownership of the Emmy-winning comedy, however, the series could go on for additional seasons should a new renewal be worked out.

"I have no problem with fact-based conservatism (such as WSJ), but @FoxNew’s 23-hour-a-day support of the NRA, conspiracy theories and Trump’s lies gets harder to swallow every day as I drive onto that lot to make a show about inclusion," Levitan continued in the thread (below). "Fox Studio has been a wonderful home for most of my career - so many amazing people there who share the concerns about @FoxNews but aren’t in the position to speak out."

In a statement to THR, Levitan elaborated on his tweets. "I have great respect and admiration for Dana Walden, Gary Newman, Peter Rice and everyone at 20th Century Fox Studios who have all treated me so well for almost two decades," he said. "For now, I will take some time to see where those people land, and at that point, make a decision about my future."

On Saturday, MacFarlane slammed Fox after Fox News host Tucker Carlson told viewers not to trust other news networks during Friday night's broadcast of his eponymous show.

"In other words, don’t think critically, don’t consult multiple news sources, and in general, don’t use your brain. Just blindly obey Fox News," tweeted MacFarlane, whose animated series Family Guy has been airing on Fox for nearly two decades. "This is fringe shit, and it’s business like this that makes me embarrassed to work for this company."

MacFarlane's Fox series also include American Dad, The Cleveland Show and his newest offering, the space dramedy Orville.

You're the Worst creator Stephen Falk later praised MacFarlane and Levitan for speaking out about the coverage, tweeting, "I share in their disgust and heartbreak."

And on Thursday, Bob's Burgers creator Loren Bouchard chimed in on Twitter, writing, "I am so grateful to Fox. They make Bob’s Burgers possible. BUT they have their name on a channel that stokes fear and spreads lies. It's the opposite of what we’re trying to do at Bob's. Love. Inclusion. Hope. That’s what we wanna broadcast. Also, we'd choose a different jacket." (The latter sentence referred to Melania Trump's controversial jacket on a visit to a migrant detention center, which was emblazoned with the words "I don't really care.")

On Friday morning, Apatow retweeted a message from Trump about maintaining a "Strong Southern Border" — and condemned Fox News and the Murdochs for supporting "this evil."

"We are so ashamed of you and your cruelty," Apatow wrote to the president. "@FoxNews supports this evil. The Murdochs support this evil. No more Fox of any kind for me."

Billy Eichner, who appeared on the seventh installment of the FX series in 2017, also condemned Fox on Friday. "I am so proud & lucky to work on American Horror Story, with an extraordinary, diverse group of actors, producers & writers I truly adore," he wrote. "But anyone working 4 a Fox network needs to speak out against the American cancer that is @FoxNews, an unethical, heartless network of liars."

Comcast recently offered to buy 21st Century Fox for $65 billion, potentially entering a bidding war with Disney, which initially offered $52.4 billion. On Wednesday, 21st Century Fox will weigh in on Comcast’s bid. If it accepts, Fox News will remain under the control of the Murdoch family and MacFarlane’s creations will be included in the deal.

June 18, 8:15 p.m. Updated with Steve Levitan's tweet.

June 19, 10:30 a.m. Updated with Paul Feig's tweet.

June 19, 11:38 a.m. Updated with Levitan tweet.

June 19, 12:43 p.m. Updated with Levitan statement. 

June 19, 4:30 p.m. Updated with Stephen Falk statement.

June 21, 2:12 p.m. Updated with Loren Bouchard statement.

June 22, 7:43 a.m. Updated with new tweet from Judd Apatow. 

June 22, 2:27 p.m. Updated with Billy Eichner statement.

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