Jay Leno has landed in legal hot water and angered members of a religious group due to a "Tonight Show" joke about Mitt Romney, a millionaire Republican leader hoping to win the November 2012 election.
During his monologue on the Thursday, January 19 episode of the NBC talk show, homes of several Republican presidential hopefuls were showcased in a video spoofing a segment from the entertainment program "The Insider."
Instead of Romney's actual summer home in New Hampshire, a photo of India's Golden Temple of Amritsar, a glittering building that is the holiest site in the Sikh religion, was shown. (Watch the video) Leno, whose jokes and segments are written by several people, was not seen commenting about the image in the episode.
An Indian-American man, Randeep Dhillon of California, on Tuesday, January 24, filed a lawsuit against the comedian and NBC in a Los Angeles court, stating that he "has suffered loss to his reputation, shame, mortification and hurt feelings," according to Entertainment Weekly.
Leno and NBC have not issued an official comment and have not confirmed whether or not they have been served with the lawsuit.
"The publication and broadcast was libelous on its face and clearly exposes the plaintiff, other Sikhs, and their religion to hatred, contempt, ridicule and obloquy because it falsely portrays the holiest place in the Sikh religion as a vacation resort owned by a non-Sikh," Entertainment Weekly's website quoted the lawsuit as saying.
The Associated Press quoted Dalbeg Singh, a top Sikh leader, as saying that community leaders would be seeking an apology from Leno. Indian officials also filed a formal complaint about the joke with the U.S. State Department and NBC. A U.S. State Department spokesperson told the news wire Leno's comments "appeared to be satirical in nature."
A Facebook page has also been created in an effort to boycott Leno. The page has at least 180 "likes."