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'30 Rock' blackface episodes to be pulled from streaming services

“I understand now that ‘intent’ is not a free pass for white people to use these images," Tina Fey, creator of the the Emmy Award-winning sitcom, wrote.
Image: 30 Rock
Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin in "30 Rock."Ali Goldstein / NBC

Episodes of "30 Rock" that feature characters in blackface will be removed from syndication and streaming services per the request of the Emmy-winning sitcom's co-creators Tina Fey and Robert Carlock.

“As we strive to do the work and do better in regards to race in America, we believe that these episodes featuring actors in race-changing makeup are best taken out of circulation,” Fey wrote in a statement. “I understand now that ‘intent’ is not a free pass for white people to use these images."

Fey also apologized for "the pain" the episodes caused.

"Going forward, no comedy-loving kid needs to stumble on these tropes and be stung by their ugliness," she added. "I thank NBCUniversal for honoring this request.”

NBCUniversal is the parent company of NBC News.

At least four episodes will no longer be available on syndication and streaming services or for purchase on iTunes and Google Play, according to Vulture, which first reported the news. Among the pulled episodes are “Believe in the Stars,” an episode from season three during which Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski) and Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) swap identities and “Christmas Attack Zone,” during which Jenna dressed as former Pittsburgh Steelers star Lynn Swann. Krakowski, who declined to comment, wears blackface during both shows.

Streaming services will also remove an episode from season six in which guest star Jon Hamm wears blackface as he spoofs “Amos ‘n’ Andy" — a racist radio show from the 1920s and '30s premised on white actors Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll portraying Black characters — and the East Coast version of "30 Rock's" season five episodes "Live Show," which includes a reference to the birther conspiracy. Hamm did not immediately respond to NBC News’ request for comment.

Some people remarked online that they hadn’t been able to access these episodes earlier this month.

"30 Rock," which was based on Fey's experiences as a head writer for NBC's "Saturday Night Live," first aired in 2006. The removal of certain episodes from streaming platforms comes as brands reckon with their promotion of racist imagery amid protests calling for racial justice.

Amazon is currently considered pulling "Dukes of Hazzard" from its platform as the show features Confederate flags and HBO Max recently removed the 1939 epic "Gone With the Wind," which has been criticized for romanticizing the Confederacy and minimizing slavery. The latter, however, later announced that it would make the film available for streaming again after it added an introduction to the film from Jacqueline Stewart, a University of Chicago media studies professor and the host of “Silent Sunday Nights” on Turner Classic Movies, to give viewers greater context.