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Philippines Not Happy With CBS TV Show


In the Philippines, they are not happy with the U.S. secretary of state - no, not Rex Tillerson, the fictional one played by Tea Leoni in the CBS drama "Madam Secretary." Michael Sullivan explains.

MICHAEL SULLIVAN, BYLINE: The trailer for next week's episode shows a fictional secretary of state punching a fictional Philippines president after an unwelcome advance.


UNIDENTIFIED VOICEOVER: When a foreign leader crosses the line...

JOEL DE LA FUENTE: (As Datu Andrada, laughing).

UNIDENTIFIED VOICEOVER: ...The secretary of state is forced into a break - in diplomacy.

TEA LEONI: (As Elizabeth McCord) I clobbered a world leader instead of saving a major regional agreement.

SULLIVAN: The Philippines embassy in Washington - not pleased at all, swiftly issuing a statement to strongly protest the highly negative depiction of a character purported to be the Philippine president. In Manila, the presidential spokesman, Ernesto Abella, turned things around in what seemed a subtle shot at the U.S. president and allegations of unwanted sexual advances that surfaced during last year's campaign.


ERNESTO ABELLA: I think they're projecting something that they really would like to say about their own situation. Really, I think they should use a fictional U.S. president.

SULLIVAN: But really, the CBS drama isn't that much of a stretch given that Philippine President Duterte is a self-described womanizer, though no one has suggested he's tried to force himself on anybody. His war on drugs, though, he's forced on an entire country - 7,500 people dead and counting. Where's the outrage about that? - a number of Facebook comments on the embassy's page asked.

For NPR News, I'm Michael Sullivan in Chiang Rai, Thailand. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Michael Sullivan is NPR's Senior Asia Correspondent. He moved to Hanoi to open NPR's Southeast Asia Bureau in 2003. Before that, he spent six years as NPR's South Asia correspondent based in but seldom seen in New Delhi.
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