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The Robertson family released a statement a little while ago [Thursday night] with regards to Phil Robertson's suspension from "Duck Dynasty" -- and it appears ominous, at least for fans of the show. Yes, the statement decries the "coarse" language used by Robertson in the "GQ" interview, but the statement also indicates that the family is thinking about the future -- a future without "Duck Dynasty."
(As I mentioned in an earlier post, this "suspension" is utterly unworkable -- a bad idea made in haste by A&E and made reflexively. There is no conceivable way to suspend the star of his own "reality" show ... especially this reality show. Now, it appears as though the family is grappling with the same obvious issue. A&E simply should have distanced itself from his language with a statement along the lines of "we certainly don't condone what Phil said and in fact find it repugnant, but he does not represent the views of the network or our partners, and we in fact cannot control what he says in independent interviews which are unrelated to the show and A&E" ... or something along those lines.
Meanwhile, back to the statement. This could all be a lot of hot air too: Don't forget, the Robertsons went to the mat to get very significant raises last season. They are getting paid a fortune to do this show. My suspicion is that cooler heads may prevail, when the heat dies down. But who knows ...
The family statement:
We want to thank all of you for your prayers and support. The family has spent much time in prayer since learning of A&E's decision. We want you to know that first and foremost we are a family rooted in our faith in God and our belief that the Bible is His word. While some of Phil's unfiltered comments to the reporter were coarse, his beliefs are grounded in the teachings of the Bible. Phil is a Godly man who follows what the Bible says are the greatest commandments: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart" and "Love your neighbor as yourself." Phil would never incite or encourage hate. We are disappointed that Phil has been placed on hiatus for expressing his faith, which is his constitutionally protected right. We have had a successful working relationship with A&E but, as a family, we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm. We are in discussions with A&E to see what that means for the future of Duck Dynasty. Again, thank you for your continued support of our family.
"Katie" -- the show starring and hosted by one very famous Katie -- has been canceled.
In a statement, Couric and ABC said: "While production will continue on “Katie” through June 2014, we’ve mutually agreed that there will not be a third season of the show. We’re very proud of everyone’s contributions to making Katie the #1 new syndicated talk show of 2012-2013, and we look forward to the rest of the season."
News of the decision was first reported by the Huffington Post.
While a high-profile ending, it was expected -- despite what looked to be an uptick in viewership during the just-concluded November sweeps. But uptick enough the ratings did not do. Couric herself had sealed a longterm deal with Yahoo as the websites worldwide anchor, which seemed to negate (if not outright eliminate) a future on syndication.
Yes, even the Governor ("...don't call me that") gets his own tribute: AMC just released what must be one of the year's most unique and unexpected love letters - to the Beast of Woodbury himself. As fans are sorrowfully aware, the Guv ate steel in the season finale. And he did not like being called "The Govenor." David Morrissey did a terrific job portraying one of TV's great villains over the past few years. .Take a look...
Now this is what I've been waiting for: Jimmy Kimmel's annual bestowal of the greatest YouTube clip of the year. The show usually gets this one right, based on my own personal research. Watch now for the winner (I won't give it away, but you can probably guess...)
A&E on Wednesday suspended the Duck Commander, Phil Robertson, from one of the most popular "unscripted" series on TV, "Duck Dynasty" -- which you already knew -- but here's something no one does know about: How exactly will this work?
How does one "suspend" a character from a putative "unscripted" series where everything is putatively "unscripted" -- this is "reality" TV. One doesn't suspend "real" people, does one? Can "reality" be changed by a simple suspension? Does "reality" work that way?
(And how confused will people be when "Duck Dynasty" returns next January, with Phil still very much a part of the series because it was pretaped long before his comments to GQ, or the subsequent suspension?)
Needless to say, all of this sounds like a problem without a solution, and in fact, I suspect it's a problem within a problem. One problem that will beget another problem because none of this is what A&E signed up for, or thought it was signing up for: That a core character on one of the most popular series in its history -- make that the most popular -- uses words, terms and ideas that are anathema to discourse or the perception of what a TV network is supposed to be, which is all-inclusive, and not anti-gay.
Fact is, this is just one problem facing A&E, which I am convinced had hoped this would all go away, and which now hopes people will forget about this entirely in a few weeks, when he probably will be "reinstated."
That's right: Don't expect this suspension to last long, which is a reason A&E called it indefinite.
"Indefinite" could mean anything -- a day from now, a century from now. The word is utterly meaninglessly, and as such offers A&E an escape hatch.
"Oh he was suspended for months ...," the network might say upon reinstatement. Of course, the show hadn't taped over those months.
But let's say this is no hollow suspension, one of those slaps on the wrist. What then? Well ... you have a show that features a family of Robertsons, with one of them -- one of the most important of them, the Commander for crying out loud -- somewhere offstage.
"Where did the Commander go?," Si might muse.
Don't bet on it: Si will say something, but it won't be "happy, happy, happy!"
The idea of "Duck Dynasty" absent Phil is ludicrous: It's like "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" without Kim ... "The Bachelor" without the bachelor.
The other problems seem obvious to me, but are not so immediately apparent. Since fame and fortune have descended on the Robertsons, people want to know what they have to say, and Phil has had plenty to say, about Jesus, the Lord, salvation. (Willie's been out there, too.) He has strong beliefs and has made no effort to hide or disguise them, which is something A&E doesn't really want people or viewers to know about either.
See the clip below, with Phil in a candid moment, about how some of these beliefs have been edited out of the show. His comments here seem to me to indicate that the Robertsons have had plenty of other comments that never made the air, and it seems impossible to believe that he first expressed his repugnant thoughts about gays to GQ for the first time either.
(Phil, by the way, does point out here one of the great paradoxes of reality TV -- the cast of "Jersey Shore," for example, can talk about having sex in ways that beggar the meanng of the term "having sex" -- but if Jesus or religion is mentioned, the comment hits the editing floor faster 'n a duck hits the water.)
Robertson's absence on the show -- and as mentioned, I very much doubt there will be much of an absence at all -- could hurt "Duck" and A&E in another fundamental way: That he has been excised because of his beliefs.
I have long suspected that "Duck" has been such a huge hit -- besides the fact that it can be amusing -- because this show is about people who live in The Rest of America: Those who believe in absolutely everything Phil Robertson believes in, up to and including how the perfect duck whistle should be made, and who believe that sin and evil have consumed popular culture ... with this one exception.
So yes, A&E has a big problem, and is hoping -- praying, yes praying -- that all of you forget about it as soon as possible.
Newsday app readers please head on over to newsday.com/tvzone to watch the clip.
Now this: James Gandolfini will finally get his HBO tribute this Sunday at 8 p.m. HBO describes it this way:
In this special presentation, more than two dozen friends and colleagues remember the three-time Emmy® winner, who died June 19, 2013 at age 51. Along with first-person reflections, the special features clips of Gandolfini’s work, as well as behind-the-scenes footage.
The title: "James Gandolfini: Tribute to a Friend."
And here's a brief look. Newsday app readers please go to Newsday.com/tvzone:
There's a prominent report in the Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday morning that says CNN chief Jeff Zucker has approached Jay Leno about a late night show after his "Tonight" reign ends early next year. No surprise -- it's been speculated about often, and an approach by Zucker makes all the sense in the world. (I'm kidding, kidding. Can't you take a joke?)
After all, CNN is a news...Read more »
TCM Remembers Joan Fontaine 6:30 a.m. – Blonde Cheat (1938)Joan Fontaine 7:45 a.m. – The Women (1939) 10:15 a.m. – Born to Be Bad (1950) Noon – Ivanhoe (1952) 2 p.m. – The Constant Nymph (1943) 4 p.m. – Suspicion (1941) 5:45 p.m. – Rebecca (1940)
TCM Remembers Peter O’Toole 8 p.m. – Lawrence of Arabia (1962) Midnight – Peter O'Toole: Live from the TCM Classic Film Festival (2011) 1 a.m. – Goodbye Mr. Chips (1969) 3:45 a.m. – My Favorite Year (1982)
Every year at this time Barbara Walters' "Most Fascinating" list arrives, and - on a vastly more modest scale - so does my list, of TVs most fascinating....
It's a modest little list, this list, but what it does offer - in my humble opinion - is a quick shout-out to a few who have done something genuinely interesting and not some who have just mastered the twerk...
We...Read more »
Interesting bit of news from Nielsen's annual Top Ten list, released Tuesday morning: "Dancing With the Stars" edged out "American Idol" as TV's most viewed unscripted show last season. "NCIS" remained TV's top draw overall.
It's not earth-shattering news by any means -- "Idol," consistently TV's most watched for a decade, has been in an inexorable slide for years now, but "Idol" has usually been the superior in terms of numbers; in 2012, for example, "Idol's" Wednesday show edged out "DWTS" (15.1 million viewers to "DWTS's" 15.0 million.)
But ... Nielsen's numbers show a drop of about 1 million each for both shows.
Here's the list and you'll be shocked -- shocked! -- to learn that football remains preeminent.
1. NBC SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL (NBC) 7.4 ... 21,734,000
2. SUNDAY NIGHT NFL PRE-KICK (NBC) 5.3 ... 15,708,000
3. THE OT (FOX) 5.0 ... 14,753,000
4. NCIS (CBS) 5.0 ... 14,692,000
5. DANCING WITH THE STARS (ABC) 4.7 ... 13,862,000
6. NFL REGULAR SEASON (ESPN) 4.6 ... 13,446,000
7. AMERICAN IDOL-WEDNESDAY (FOX) 4.6 ... 13,384,000
8. BIG BANG THEORY (CBS) 4.5 ... 13,217,000
9. AMERICAN IDOL-THURSDAY (FOX) 4.5 ... 13,136,000
10. DANCING WITH THE STARS RESULTS (ABC) 4.5 ... 12,890,000
Data from 12/31/2012 - 12/08/2013. Regularly scheduled English and Spanish-language programs on Broadcast and Cable. Primetime. Persons 2+ estimates include live and same-day timeshifted viewing. Excludes breakouts, specials, programs less than 5 minutes in duration and programs with less than 4 telecasts. Read as: NBC Sunday Night Football averaged 21.7 million viewers who watched live or via timeshifted viewing within the same day. Source: Nielsen