CNN parent company Time Warner has come under fire over its continued sponsorship of the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park production of Julius Caesar, which depicts the assassination and brutal stabbing of its Donald Trump-inspired main character.
— PedanticPontificator (@PedPont) June 12, 2017
— Terry Kern (@crapsplayer58) June 12, 2017
— USABrit4Trump (@USABrit4Trump) June 12, 2017
The Public Theater is sponsored by the Time Warner Foundation, a nonprofit group supported by CNN’s parent company, Time Warner Inc.
A representative for Time Warner and the Time Warner Foundation did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The updated take on the Shakespeare classic sparked controversy over its main character’s close resemblance to President Trump, with actor Gregg Henry sporting a blond, Trump-like hairstyle and a business suit and tie. The character is later brutally stabbed to death by his associates in the Senate.
“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,” the airline said in a statement posted to Twitter. “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.”
On Sunday, Bank of America said it would not have supported the play had it known that it would be presented to “provoke and offend.”
Meanwhile, American Express issued a statement Monday clarifying that its sponsorship of the Public Theater does not include funding for the free Shakespeare in the Park program, and that it does not “condone” the contemporary interpretation of the play.
Adding fuel to the fire over the play online was CNN host Fareed Zakaria, who called the Oskar Eustis-directed production of Julius Caesar a “masterpiece.”
“If you’re in NYC, go see Julius Caesar, free in Central Park, brilliantly interpreted for Trump era. A masterpiece,” Zakaria tweeted last month.
If you're in NYC, go see Julius Caesar, free in Central Park, brilliantly interpreted for Trump era. A masterpiece: https://t.co/RiJJnW3g8V
— Fareed Zakaria (@FareedZakaria) May 31, 2017
The Public Theater is also sponsored by New York magazine and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.
Follow Jerome Hudson on Twitter: @JeromeEHudson