×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Entertainment Industry Reacts to Sponsors Withdrawing Funding From Trump-Like ‘Julius Caesar’

Two major sponsors, Bank of America and Delta Airlines, have withdrawn funding from the Public Theater over a Shakespeare in the Park production of “Julius Caesar” that clearly invokes the Trump administration — and the entertainment industry responded with vocal support of the Public amid concerns about free speech.

“Now I know where not to bank & who not to fly with,” tweeted Beau Willimon, the “House of Cards” creator who got his start as a playwright. “Actions like this create a culture of fear. We must support free expression, not punish.” He then initiated an online campaign to donate to the Public, the venerable New York nonprofit that has been the breeding ground for influential Broadway shows, including “Hamilton” and “A Chorus Line.”

Actors Carrie Coon and Denis O’Hare, two TV faces who have strong ties to the stage, were also among those going public with their support of the Public. “Thanks to the Public Theater, we have ‘A Chorus Line,’ ‘Hamilton,’ ‘Fun Home,’ and ‘Hair,'” tweeted John Cohen, a producer of “Despicable Me” and “The Angry Birds Movie.” “Those are four great reasons to support.”

The production, directed by Public Theater artistic director Oskar Eustis, clearly equates the title character with the president (and Caesar’s wife, Calpurnia, with Melania Trump), and, in keeping with the storyline of the play, depicts Caesar being assassinated. In the wake of critical coverage in right-leaning news outlets including Breitbart and Fox News, Bank of America and Delta pulled their support.

Bank of America, which has been a major donor to the Public for 11 years (and gets significant credit for keeping Shakespeare in the Park free for most audience members), withdrew funding from the production itself, but not from the overall activities of the Public,

“The Public Theater chose to present ‘Julius Caesar’ in a way that was intended to provoke and offend,” Bank of America said in a statement. “Had this intention been made known to us, we would have decided not to sponsor it. We are withdrawing our funding for this production.”

Delta, on the other hand, said publicly it would revoke its support from the Public Theater entirely. “No matter what your political stance may be, the graphic staging of ‘Julius Caesar’ at this summer’s Free Shakespeare in the Park does not reflect Delta Air Lines’ values,” Delta said in a statement. “Their artistic and creative direction crossed the line on the standards of good taste. We have notified them of our decision to end our sponsorship as the official airline of the Public Theater effective immediately.”

So far, the Public Theater itself has remained silent in the face of the controversy. The production of “Julius Caesar,” starring Gregg Henry as the Trump-like Caesar, opens tonight.

More Legit

  • Sutton Foster

    Sutton Foster Starring Opposite Hugh Jackman in Broadway's 'The Music Man'

    “The Music Man” has found its Marian, the librarian. Sutton Foster, the two-time Tony Award winner, will star opposite Hugh Jackman in the upcoming revival of “The Music Man.” She will play Marian Paroo, a small-town librarian who is initially immune to Professor Harold Hill’s charms. It’s a role that was previously performed by the [...]

  • 'Black Super Hero Magic Mama' Review

    L.A. Theater Review: 'Black Super Hero Magic Mama'

    What function do superhero stories play in American society? Are they merely escapist distractions for head-in-the-clouds teens, or could those same formats actually serve a practical function, providing useful tools for everyday life? Recognizing these comic book fantasies as by far the dominant form of contemporary mythmaking for a generation of young people, emerging playwright [...]

  • Danielle Brooks'Ain't Too Proud - The

    How 'Orange Is the New Black' Star Danielle Brooks Became a Broadway Producer

    Danielle Brooks earned a Tony nomination when she made her Broadway debut as Sofia in the 2015 revival of “The Color Purple,” but now the “Orange Is the New Black” star is working behind the scenes as a producer on the new jukebox musical “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations.” “I [...]

  • Ain't Too Proud review

    Broadway Review: 'Ain't Too Proud'

    In the wake of the long-running “Jersey Boys” and the short-lived “Summer,” director Des McAnuff is back on Broadway with another show built around the song catalog of a music act — and although “Ain’t Too Proud” has all the right sounds and slick moves, this bio-musical of the R&B vocal group the Temptations is [...]

  • 'White Noise' Theater Review: Suzan-Lori Parks

    Off Broadway Review: Daveed Diggs in 'White Noise'

    Any new play by the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks (“Topdog / Underdog”) demands — and deserves — attention. And in its premiere production at the Public Theater, her latest, “White Noise,” opens with a burst of brainy energy that lasts through the first act. But it takes a nosedive in the sloppy second half, [...]

  • Alexander Dinelaris

    'Jekyll and Hyde' Movie in the Works Based on Broadway Musical

    The Broadway musical “Jekyll and Hyde” is getting the movie treatment from Academy Award winner Alexander Dinelaris. Dinelaris, who is writing and producing the adaptation, won an Oscar for the “Birdman” script and was a co-producer on “The Revenant.” He is producing “Jekyll and Hyde” as the first project under his New York-based development company, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content