(CBS/AP) Archbishop Desmond Tutu and several other Nobel laureates have protested in an open letter to NBC that the network's new reality competition series "Stars and Stripes" glorifies war and armed violence.
The series, premiering on NBC tonight, pairs celebrities with U.S. military personnel for simulated military challenges. Celebrity participants include boxing champion Laila Ali, Superman actor Dean Cain, Olympic gold medalist Picabo Street and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's husband, Todd Palin.
The program is hosted by retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark.
"I'm doing this series for one reason," says Clark at the top of the show - "to introduce you, the American people, to the individuals that sacrifice so much for all of us."
The series is billed on its website as a "fast-paced competition" whose contestants "will gather at a remote training facility where they will be challenged to execute complicated missions inspired by real military exercises."
"Stars Earn Stripes" says it "pays homage to the men and women who serve in the U.S. armed forces and our first-responder services."
The letter, sent Monday to Clark, NBC boss Robert Greenblatt, producer Mark Burnett and others connected with the show, argues "this program pays homage to no one anywhere" and criticizes it for "trying to somehow sanitize war by likening it to an athletic competition."
The letter calls for NBC to stop airing the series. NBC had no immediate comment.
Besides Tutu, signers of the letter include Jody Williams, Mairead Maguire, Shirin Ebadi, Jose Ramos-Horta, Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Oscar Arias Sanchez, Rigoberta Menchu Tum and Betty Williams.
The Nobel laureates also declared their support for a protest against the show scheduled to take place Monday afternoon outside NBC's Rockefeller Center headquarters in Manhattan.