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The fallout from Tracy Morgan's homophobic tirade continued this weekend, with 30 Rock cast members Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin and Cheyenne Jackson, as well as comedians Chris Rock and Wanda Sykes, trying to account for Morgan's actions.
The controversy erupted last week, when an upset fan who had attended one of Morgan's live comedy shows posted a Facebook note about the comedian's homophobic routine. The fan stressed that a lot of the anti-gay comments didn't seem to be jokes, as Morgan's "entire demeanor changed" when he began talking about how gay people deserved to be bullied, or even killed. Shortly afterward, Morgan released a statement apologizing that his act "went too far." But is that enough for fans and friends to forgive him?
This weekend, Morgan's friends and colleagues grappled with the controversy in press statements. Fellow foul-mouthed comedian Chris Rock initially defended Morgan's right to free speech -- but backtracked when he actually read what Morgan said.
"After reading everything tracy said," Rock tweeted, "wow i get it that s*** wasn't called for and i don't support it at all. now can i please go to the tony awards without getting my a** kicked."
Comedian Wanda Sykes, who is gay, condemned Morgan's tirade in Tennessee but also placed blame on politicians for legalizing discrimination.
"I fault the TN lawmakers. They've created an anti-gay environment," Sykes wrote. "Don't believe Tracy would be so ignorant in L.A."
Reactions from Morgan's 30 Rock crew have varied. Alec Baldwin kept his Twitter remarks short, saying "Oh that Tracy," and then adding, "No one's making excuses for Tracy Morgan."
Costar Cheyenne Jackson, who is openly gay, issued a statement to Out magazine saying he was "disgusted and appalled" by Morgan's words. "I've known Tracy for two years, spent many long hours with him on set, and I want to believe that this behavior is not at the core of who he is," wrote Jackson. "I'm incredibly disappointed by his actions, and hope that his apology is sincere."
And then there's the statement we've all been holding our breath for. What would 30 Rock star, writer and executive producer Tina Fey have to say about all this? Here's the statement she issued, which defends Morgan... kind of.
"I'm glad to hear that Tracy apologized for his comments," writes Fey. "Stand-up comics may have the right to 'work out' their material in its ugliest and rawest form in front of an audience, but the violent imagery of Tracy's rant was disturbing to me at a time when homophobic hate crimes continue to be a life-threatening issue for the GLBT Community. It also doesn't line up with the Tracy Morgan I know, who is not a hateful man and is generally much too sleepy and self-centered to ever hurt another person."
Fey also notes that 30 Rock has many gay and lesbian staffers, "without whom Tracy would not have lines to say, clothes to wear, sets to stand on, scene partners to act with, or a printed-out paycheck from accounting to put in his pocket."
We wonder if Morgan will still be so lovable on 30 Rock now that this uglier side of his comedy has been exposed. If he makes a more convincing apology before the new season starts, that would be a big step in the right direction.