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NBC caves for AFA – again

Donald Wildmon’s squawking about another victory of the American Family Association against NBC, which has now decided to drop the production of an episode of Will and Grace featuring Britney Spears as a fundamentalist Christian.

Responding to pressure, NBC has decided to cancel an offensive segment from the April 13 episode of “Will and Grace.” American Family Association (AFA) said that NBC cancelled the segment after pressure from NBC affiliates and AFA. The network had previously announced that the segment would feature Britney Spears in the role of a conservative Christian hosting a cooking show called “Cruci-fixins” and would air the night before Good Friday.

NBC now says their own description of the episode was a mistake. In a memo to affiliates, the network said “the information was mistakenly included in a press release describing an upcoming episode of ‘Will and Grace’ which, in fact, has yet to be written. The reference to ‘Cruci-fixins’ will not be in the show and the story line will not contain a Christian characterization at all.”

NBC wanting us to believe they were mistaken in describing the segment, that they didn’t know what was in their own press release, just doesn’t hold water,” said AFA Chairman Donald E. Wildmon. “Plainly put, NBC heard from their affiliates that they did not want to go through another ‘Book of Daniel’ situation while losing millions in advertising avenue.”

On this one, I think NBC is the one that looks bad, if you ask me, just say you caved to affiliate or advertiser pressure. Let the rest of us know who is buttering your bread. If there are legitimate reasons for canceling a show (low ratings, it sucked, whatever), then don’t drop BoD and cut and run from a public response as to why, particularly when you have an interest group like the AFA ready to crow about a victory. Otherwise, we have to assume that the network does answer to Wildmon.

One exception to the rule appears to be NBC’s Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, which has consistently featured gay-themed plotlines and cases ones. Dick Wolf has been putting the screws to the AmTaliban over the last couple of seasons, but one episode this year has gotten under the skin of the fundies because it featured two lesbian parents (this ep is also nominated for a GLAAD award). An ADA cited research from the American Sociological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Association of Social Workers to confirm there is no negative impact on the children of same-sex couples and that sent the reviewer over the edge.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding