NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt was praised for the network's handling of its skirmish with outspoken billionaire Donald Trump during an appearance at the National Hispanic Media Coalition's annual conference — but he gave only a wink to the matter with an impromptu joke.
Greenblatt took part in a keynote Q&A with NHMC President Alex Nogales at the conference, held Thursday in Universal City, where he discussed Latinos on TV and his efforts to advance their presence.
Before his introduction, Greenblatt was heralded by NHMC Executive Vice President and general counsel Jessica Gonzalez for NBC's decision to cut business ties with Trump after the real estate mogul and presidential candidate made inflammatory remarks about Mexican immigrants. The praise for Greenblatt was echoed by Nogales at the top of the interview.
But Greenblatt did little more than say "thank you" in addressing the situation. That is, until a cellphone rang. And rang. And rang.
"That's Donald Trump calling," Greenblatt joked amid the interruption. "He's going to sue every one of you."
To which Nogales quipped: "I'm expecting a call from Donald Trump."
Trump has threatened legal action in the wake of some of his business relationships unraveling after remarks during a June 16 speech announcing his presidential candidacy in which he referred to Mexican immigrants as "rapists" and people bringing crime and drugs into the U.S.
The NHMC claimed that Trump had threatened to sue the organization over its advocacy efforts calling on businesses to sever ties with Trump. But that hasn't stopped the Latino group from continuing its campaign, using Thursday's conference to call on more businesses to end their relationships with Trump.
Trump also threatened a lawsuit against NBC after the network said it no longer would broadcast his Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants (which corporate parent NBCUniversal co-owns with Trump). Univision, the first company to break up with Trump after his comments, already has been hit with a $500 million lawsuit for dropping its simulcast of the pageants.
The fallout extends beyond that. Retailer Macy's has said it would stop selling the real estate tycoon's line of products. The PGA said it would switch venues for its 2016 Grand Slam of Golf, which had been slated to be held at Trump's Palos Verdes golf course. And NASCAR and ESPN also have switched venues for planned events at Trump courses.