Lily Tomlin has revived her iconic character “Ernestine” as a feisty phone operator fielding complaint calls at SeaWorld, “where everybody has a whale of a time — except for the whales.”
Tomlin filmed the biting spot for PETA to hit the airwaves in May as the tourist season begins. Scripted by Modern Family writer Alex Herschlag, the satire is set to make a splash as the company struggles to lure back visitors who have stayed away in droves after learning of the abusement park’s cruelty through the documentary Blackfish and nonstop PETA protests.
“Yes, the orcas lose teeth gnawing on the concrete walls,” says Ernestine in the spot. “But if you were a trainer, wouldn’t you prefer to swim with a toothless killer whale?”
Though SeaWorld recently stopped breeding orcas as a result of public pressure, PETA — whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment” — is pressuring the park to release the animals to seaside sanctuaries.
Tomlin, who was a double nominee at this year’s Golden Globes, returns for the second season of Netflix’s Grace and Frankie on May 6. PETA especially thanks James Costa and the Archibald Family Foundation for sponsoring the “Ernestine” commercial.