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TESTING THE FAITH

2 NBC affiliates drop
'anti-Christian' show

TV stations say they received
e-mails, calls from viewers



Aidan Quinn as Episcopal priest with Garret Dillahunt as “Jesus”

Amid a protest bolstered by a pro-family group, two NBC affiliates have dropped a new drama featuring a troubled, pill-popping Episcopal priest who is the father of a dysfunctional family.

The American Family Association says it hopes other NBC affiliates will join WTWO in Terre Haute, Ind., and KARK in Little Rock, Ark., in their decisions to not air “The Book of Daniel.”

At the top of its website, the Indiana station says: “Due to emails and calls from viewers, WTWO will not be airing NBC’s The Book of Daniel.”

KARK cited “careful consideration” of viewer feedback, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

WTWO’s general manager, Duane Lammers, insisted, however, he pre-empted the show not because of content but to protest what he views as the networks’ strong-arm approach to affiliates, as well as inconsistent federal oversight of indecent content, according to the Reporter.

“This has nothing to do with the program and has nothing to do with the AFA,” Lammers told the paper. “I think the system is screwed up. I think the network thinks we are going to do whatever they tell us to do. I think the regulatory environment is flawed.”

An NBC spokesman urged affiliates and viewers to not judge the series based on promotions.

“People are reacting based on not having seen it,” said Vivi Zigler, executive vice president for current programming at NBC Entertainment. “They’re seeing the advertising, not seeing what the core of the show is.”

The series debuts Friday night with back-to-back episodes and will air regularly at 9 p.m.

AFA Chairman Donald E. Wildmon said his group, which has an online petition, has been notified by several companies that they have no plans to sponsor the show.

“It appears that NBC will be forced to fill the available ad spots with ‘distressed merchandise’ ads which are sold at pennies on the dollar of the going rate, and with ‘make good’ ads which bring in no money to the network,” Wildmon said.

NBC affiliates have received hundreds of phone calls protesting the manner in which Christians and Christianity are depicted.

“We are tired of NBC’s anti-Christian bigotry,” said Wildmon.

“The Book of Daniel,” written by a homosexual, is being promoted as the only show on television in which Jesus appears as a recurring character and the only network prime-time drama series with a regular male “gay” character, a 23-year-old Republican son.

Touted as the riskiest show of the year, it includes a wife who relies on mid-day martinis, a 16-year-old daughter who is a drug dealer and a 16-year-old adopted son who is having sex with the bishop’s daughter. At the office, the priest’s lesbian secretary is sleeping with his sister-in-law.

Last summer, the show’s writer, Jack Kenny, said at the Television Critics Association’s press tour he recognized “there are going to be people who have an issue with a gay man writing about Jesus.”

“I’m not making fun of Jesus,” he said. “I never want to poke fun at religion or at Jesus. These characters are very spiritual people. They believe in God, they believe in Christ as their savior, and I think that’s wonderful.”



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