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'Book of Daniel' and NBC under more fire

Things are heating up over NBC’s The Book of Daniel, which starts its run on this Friday at 9PM and the American Family Association’s campaign against the network is starting to bear fruit (see my original post here). NBC’s statement on the protest:

“The Book of Daniel is a fictional drama about an Episcopalian priest’s family and the contemporary issues with which they must grapple. We’re confident that once audiences view this quality drama themselves, they’ll appreciate this thought-provoking examination of one American family.”

The NBC affiliate in Terre Haute, IN, Nexstar Broadcasting-owned WTWO, has already dropped the show, citing “emails and calls from viewers.” This is the first NBC station to bow out of the show, according to Broadcasting and Cable.

Station General Manager Duane Lammers, who is also Nexstar’s COO, says hundreds of viewers have lodged complaints.

Lammers plans to screen the first episode Thursday and then decide whether to air future episodes. But the larger issue, Lammers says, is that stations do not get input into the network shows that end up on their air.

That is a common complaint from station managers frustrated that programs picked by executives in New York and Los Angeles don’t play well with viewers in other parts of the country. “I am sick of networks making unilateral decisions,” Lammers says. “I am disappointed about programming in general.”

WTWO’s move is being hailed by the Tupelo, Miss.-based American Family Association (AFA). The AFA has been attacking the show, urging affiliates not to air the series and calling on advertisers to boycott. The AFA says several major advertisers have pulled out, but will not name them.

A second affiliate has also dropped “Daniel”, KARK-TV in Little Rock, Arkansas, also owned by Nexstar Broadcasting Group.

GLAAD has finally launched a counter-campaign. I’m glad they are putting out a strong statement — GLAAD, unlike the AFA, has actually seen advance episodes of “Daniel.”

Many NBC affiliates share these American values and are standing firm, telling protestors that if they don’t like the show to simply turn it off. “I think they’re going to find it’s far less controversial than others would have them believe,” said Steve Pontius, executive vice president of Waterman Broadcasting, which owns NBC affiliates in Florida and Virginia. Pontius watched the first episode and says that while it deals with serious issues, “This is fiction and people should not forget that.”

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has viewed the first two episodes of this eight-part series and finds it to be fair and inclusive in regards to its gay and bisexual characters. “It doesn’t surprise me that the American Family Association would be afraid of this series — it shows a family that’s both deeply religious and loving and accepting of their gay son,” said Damon Romine, GLAAD’s entertainment media director. “I’m sure the AFA is terrified that a show like this might open people’s eyes to the fact that anti-gay bigotry is neither a religious nor a family value.”

LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD: Please Take Five Minutes to Take Action Now

It is important that the NBC network and NBC affiliates understand that these anti-gay groups with the deceptive names do not speak for America’s families. Let them hear your voice in support of the broadcast of The Book of Daniel.

1. Please contact the NBC affiliate in your market to let them know you want the freedom to choose whether to watch “The Book of Daniel,” and encourage your affiliate not to give in to pressure from anti-gay extremists who seek to censor this program. CONTACT: You can locate your NBC affiliate in your phone book or by clicking here:
2. Please contact NBC directly and thank the network for broadcasting “The Book of Daniel,” acknowledging the importance of seeing gay people on television, especially gay people of faith.

You can also turn the tables on the AFA by using its petition, replacing the text and send your own counter message to Wright. Here is the NBC contact info as well.

Bob Wright, Chairman
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY  10112
Primary Phone: 212-664-4444
Fax: 212-489-7592
E-Mail: Bob Wright, NBC

Remind them that the AFA is an extremist organization, a fringe group of people that will accept nothing less than a rollback of the cultural clock to their fantasy of a “moral” society. There is no need to kowtow to these people.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding