S.F. Bookshop Event Cancellation: The Controversy Surrounding ‘Stranger Things’ Actor Brett Gelman

San Francisco, CA – A scheduled book tour event at Book Passage, a San Francisco bookshop, was abruptly canceled following what the store referred to as “intemperate” remarks made by actor and author Brett Gelman. Gelman, known for his role as Murray in the hit Netflix series “Stranger Things,” was set to promote his short story collection, “The Terrifying Realm of the Possible.”

Key Events:

  • Cancellation: Book Passage canceled Gelman’s event, which was part of his book tour.
  • Allegations: Gelman alleged the cancellation was due to his vocal support for Israel.
  • Response: Book Passage co-owner Bill Petrocelli cited “intemperate and ill-advised remarks” as the reason for the cancellation, without detailing the specific comments[1].

Key People Involved:

  • Brett Gelman: Actor, author, and self-described “Zionist pig,” a term he uses to reclaim the slur.
  • Bill Petrocelli: Co-owner of Book Passage, who made the decision to cancel the event.


  • Gelman’s Statement: Gelman defended his public disparagement as being directed only at Hamas and antisemites, not against any ethnic or social group. He expressed horror over the deaths of innocent Palestinians and felt that the cancellation equated his advocacy for Israel with disparaging Palestinians.
  • Book Passage’s History: The bookshop has a history of hosting Jewish authors and events related to Jewish American fiction, indicating that the cancellation was not a reflection of the store’s stance on Jewish authors or Israel.


  • Gelman’s Advocacy: Gelman has been an outspoken supporter of Israel on social media, sometimes using provocative language. He has participated in pro-Israel events, including a March for Israel in Washington, D.C..
  • Security Concerns: Due to the threat of protests, Gelman mentioned he would hire security for his other tour dates if necessary.


The controversy began when Book Passage responded to Gelman’s allegations of the event’s cancellation being due to his support for Israel. Petrocelli clarified that the decision was based on Gelman’s remarks, which he did not specify. Gelman, who has been vocal about his support for Israel and against antisemitism, felt the cancellation was unjust and possibly antisemitic. The bookshop, with a record of hosting Jewish authors, suggested that the issue was not with Gelman’s views on Israel but with the nature of his comments.

The incident has sparked discussions about free speech, the role of public figures in political discourse, and the implications of canceling events based on an individual’s personal views.


[1] https://jweekly.com/2024/02/12/s-f-bookshop-stranger-things-actors-intemperate-remarks-led-to-cancellation/
[2] https://www.bkstr.com/sanfranciscostatestore/help-faq/return-policy
[3] https://www.sfchronicle.com/sf/article/folio-books-noe-valley-to-close-18649621.php

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