Nat Geo pulls Neil deGrasse Tyson’s ‘StarTalk’ amid misconduct allegations

National Geographic Channel has pulled its long-running Neil deGrasse Tyson chat show “StarTalk” off the air, at least for now, following allegations of sexual misconduct against the famed astrophysicist. “StarTalk” will remain on hiatus as a Fox Networks Group investigation into the multiple claims continues.

“In order to allow the investigation to occur unimpeded we chose to hold new episodes of ‘Star Talk’ until it is complete,” a Nat Geo rep told Variety. “We expect that to happen in the next few weeks at which time we’ll make a final decision.”

“StarTalk” returned for its fifth season in November and had aired just three episodes, out of a 20-episode order, when new allegations against Tyson emerged. The website Patheos reported that two women had accused Tyson of inappropriate behavior: Bucknell University’s Dr. Katelyn N. Allers claimed Tyson groped her at an event in 2009, while a former assistant, Ashley Watson, said Tyson made repeated inappropriate sexual advances toward her.

This wasn’t the first time Tyson had been accused of misconduct; musician Tchiya Amet has claimed that Tyson raped her when they were both graduate students in the 1980s.

“Star Talk” was scheduled to air original episodes through December and up until now, but hasn’t been seen on Nat Geo since November 26. The StarTalk page on Nat Geo’s website features the first three episodes of Season 5, but makes no mention of the show’s current hiatus.

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Neil deGrasse Tyson through the years
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Neil deGrasse Tyson through the years
Neil deGrasse Tyson (Photo by Deborah Feingold/Corbis via Getty Images)
NEW YORK CITY, NY - MAY 8: Neil deGrasse Tyson attends TIME Magazine's 100 Most Influential People 2007 at Jazz at Lincoln Center on May 8, 2007 in New York City. (Photo by PATRICK MCMULLAN/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 28: Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson poses for a portrait at The Rose Center for Earth and Space Hayden Planetarium on February 28, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Myrna Suarez/Getty Images)
COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY: Host Neil deGrasse Tyson travels to the Earth of the Carboniferous in the 'The Lost Worlds of Planet Earth' episode airing Sunday, May 4, 2014 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX and Monday, May 5, 2014 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on Nat Geo. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 12: Neil deGrasse Tyson makes a few remarks at a Celebration Of Carl Sagan at The Library of Congress on November 12, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images)
PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 13: Neil DeGrasse Tyson (L) and executive producer Seth MacFarlane speak during the FOX portion of the 2014 Television Critics Association Press Tour at the Langham Hotel on January 13, 2014 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY: More than three decades after Carl Sagan's groundbreaking and iconic series, 'Cosmos: A Personal Voyage,' it's time once again to set sail for the stars. Host and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson sets off on the Ship of the Imagination to discover Earth's Cosmic Address and its coordinates in space and time in the 'Standing Up in the Milky Way' Series Premiere episode of COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY airing Sunday, March 9, 2014 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY: Host Neil deGrasse Tyson travels to northern Italy to learn how Albert Einstein developed his famous theories of relativity in the 'A Sky Full of Ghosts' episode of airing Sunday, March 30, 2014 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX and Monday, March 31, 2014 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on Nat Geo. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 08: Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson speaks onstage at the Neil DeGrasse Tyson Keynote during the 2014 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival at Austin Convention Center on March 8, 2014 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Earl Mcgehee/Getty Images for SXSW)
COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY: Neil deGrasse Tyson in the the 'A Sky Full of Ghosts' episode of COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY airing Sunday, March 30, 2014 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX and Monday, March 31, 2014 (10:00-11:00 PM ET/PT) on Nat Geo. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS -- Episode 0015 -- Pictured: (l-r) Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and Seth Reiss as Pluto during an interview with host Seth Meyers on March 14, 2014 -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY: Host Neil deGrasse Tyson explores the ideas of death and immortality in the cosmos in the all-new 'The Immortals' episode airing Sunday, May 18, 2014 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX and Monday, May 19, 2014 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on Nat Geo. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY: Host Neil deGrasse Tyson in the 'Unafraid of The Dark' Season Finale episode airing Sunday, June 8, 2014 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX and Monday, June 9, 2014 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on Nat Geo. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 04: Neil deGrasse Tyson and Ann Druyan attend the Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey: 'Unafraid Of The Dark' Final Episode Screening at The Paley Center for Media on June 4, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Jenny Anderson/WireImage)
PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 07: Neil deGrasse Tyson, author, astrophysicist, lecturer and director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History, speaks onstage during the National Geographic Channel Special Programming Announcement at the 2015 Winter Television Critics Association press tour at the Langham Huntington Hotel & Spa on January 7, 2015 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 31: Astrophysicist and host of 'COSMOS', Neil deGrasse Tyson poses with award during The 74th Annual Peabody Awards Ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street on May 31, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Peabody Awards)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 31: (L-R): Ann Druyan, Peabody Award Recipient, and Neil deGrasse Tyson speak onstage at The 74th Annual Peabody Awards Ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street on May 31, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Peabody Awards)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 28: Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson speaks during the 2015 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting on September 28, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)
Richard Branson, chairman and founder of Virgin Group Ltd., right, speaks as Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist at the American Museum of Natural History, listens during the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in New York, U.S., on Monday, Sept. 28, 2015. The annual CGI meetings bring together heads of state, leading CEOs, philanthropists, and members of the media to facilitate discussion and forward-thinking initiatives that challenge the way we impact the future. Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 03: Neil deGrasse Tyson visits 'Sway in the Morning' with Sway Calloway on Eminem's Shade 45 at SiriusXM Studios on February 3, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Matthew Eisman/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 18: Neil deGrasse Tyson visits at SiriusXM Studio on April 18, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 11: Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson attend the 2016 Creative Arts Emmy Awards Day 2 at the Microsoft Theater on September 11, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 23: Neil deGrasse Tyson visits at SiriusXM Studio on September 23, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 25: Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and educator Bill Nye attend the screening of 'The Space Between Us' hosted by STX Entertainment with The Cinema Society at Landmark's Sunshine Cinema on January 25, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 13: Event honoree Neil deGrasse Tyson attends the 2019 Webby Awards at Cipriani Wall St. on May 13, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Gary Gershoff/WireImage)
Neil DeGrasse Tyson Apologizes for Mass Shooting Tweet: ‘I Got This One Wrong’
ARCHIVO- En esta fotografía del 13 de mayo de 2019 Neil Degrasse Tyson en la 23a entrega anual de los Premios Webby en Cipriani Wall Street en Nueva York. Neil deGrasse Tyson aprendió tras un tuit que decir la verdad no siempre es lo que más ayuda. El astrofísico y autor se disculpó el lunes 5 de agosto de 2019 por un tuit del domingo en el que señaló que más gente muere en Estados Unidos de maneras que llaman menos la atención que los tiroteos masivos en un mismo periodo de dos días. (Foto Christopher Smith/Invision/AP, archivo)
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The timing of the allegations put Nat Geo in a tough position. Not only had it just promoted the return of “StarTalk,” but its much-anticipated 13-episode series “Cosmos: Possible Worlds,” the latest edition of the “Cosmos” revival hosted by Tyson, is set to premiere on March 4.

“Cosmos: Possible Worlds” will also air on the Fox network, premiering on March 3, the night before its Nat Geo launch. With just two months before air, it would be virtually impossible for Fox and Nat Geo to replace Tyson on “Cosmos.” Not only does he narrate the series, but he’s incorporated on-camera throughout the show. Nat Geo has touted the fact that “Cosmos: Possible Worlds” will air as a global event on National Geographic in 172 countries and 43 languages, making it an important centerpiece for the network. Should Fox and Nat Geo opt to part ways with Tyson, it would require time and effort to recut the show with a new host (such as, say, executive producer Seth MacFarlane).

Late last year, after the latest allegations, Fox and Nat Geo released a joint statement: “We have only just become aware of the recent allegations regarding Neil deGrasse Tyson. We take these matters very seriously and we are reviewing the recent reports.” The show’s producers, which include Ann Druyan’s Cosmos Studios and MacFarlane’s Fuzzy Door Productions, said in a statement last month that they “are committed to a thorough investigation of this matter and to act accordingly as soon as it is concluded.”

For his part, Tyson denied the allegations in a Facebook post, and said he welcomed an investigation: “In any claim, evidence matters. Evidence always matters. But what happens when it’s just one person’s word against another’s, and the stories don’t agree? That’s when people tend to pass judgment on who is more credible than whom. And that’s when an impartial investigation can best serve the truth – and would have my full cooperation to do so.”

Since then, Tyson has canceled several talks he had planned to give this month in Orlando, Jacksonville, and Boca Raton, Fla.

The “Star Talk” episodes that have already run featured guests including the late Anthony Bourdain, comedian Joe Rogan, and “The Big Bang Theory” star Simon Helberg. Episodes in the can and waiting to air include guests George R.R. Martin, former Vice President Al Gore, Weird Al Yankovic, Bill Nye, Dan Rather, Jeff Goldblum, Jack Black, James Marsden and Anna Deavere Smith.

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