NBC responds to "Will & Grace" criticism

TV Arts

from yahoo

NBC, Christian group spar over "Will & Grace" 
By Steve Gorman 

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A conservative advocacy group that urged a
boycott of NBC's recently canceled drama about a pill-popping priest
turned its wrath on Thursday to an upcoming "Will & Grace" episode
that it says will mock Christ's crucifixion. 

But NBC executives insist the group's objections stem from faulty
details in a press release mistakenly issued by the network earlier
this week, and that neither a script nor story line for the episode in
question has been written.

The latest religious flap at NBC flared after the network announced on
Tuesday that pop star     Britney Spears will make an April 13 guest
appearance on "Will & Grace," playing a Christian conservative
talk-show sidekick to Jack, the gay character portrayed by series
regular     Sean Hayes.

According to NBC's initial synopsis of the episode, Jack's fictional
TV network, Out TV, is taken over by a Christian broadcaster, leading
Spears' character to do a cooking segment on his show called

The American Family Association immediately raised objections to the
planned episode, saying it "mocks the crucifixion of Christ" and will
"further denigrate Christianity" by airing the night before Good

On its Web site, the Mississippi-based advocacy group called on its
supporters to urge network affiliates to refuse to run the episode and
to write letters of protest to NBC.

NBC countered that the dispute stems from an inaccurate press release
that went out without being properly vetted.

"Some erroneous information was mistakenly included in a press release
describing an upcoming episode of 'Will & Grace,' which in fact has
yet to be written," NBC spokeswoman Rebecca Marks told Reuters late in
the day.

All that has been decided is that Spears will play a central role in
an upcoming episode that will likely air sometime in April, Marks

There was no immediate comment from representatives for Spears, whose
guest spot on the gay-themed sitcom will mark her first public
performance since she had her first child in September.

The same organization urged an affiliate and advertising boycott of
the recent NBC series, "The Book of Daniel," a drama starring
Aidan Quinn as a Vicodin-addicted Episcopal minister who talks to

NBC, a unit of the General Electric Co., yanked the program from its
schedule last month after just three weeks on the air, citing abysmal

The network also had trouble finding commercial sponsors for the show,
and several smaller affiliates declined to carry the series, objecting
to its portrayal of Christian themes. 

<this sounds like a lot of bull. there's no way that whoever wrote the
p.r. pulled out "cruci-fixins" out of nowhere. Sounds like NBC caved
in and is going to change it.>
Yep.  The American Family Association can now celebrate the removal of
a joke that's been featured in no fewer than two other US sitcoms
("The Simpsons" and "Arrested Development").  Evidently, it's
blasphemous only when a "gay show" tries to use it.
The only way AFA even knew of this is by the press-release that NBC
authored and plastered all over the Internet and traditional media,
2-1/2 months in advance of the show.

If there was no similar announcement to use "cruci-fixins" in either
"The Simpsons" or in "Arrested Development", then how would AFA have
known in advance to rally a boycott of either show?

I'm not saying there were no such press releases, but I don't recall

I think you give AFA far too much credit.
Lacking advance knowledge of content that it deems offensive, the
American Family Association has issued criticisms of programs (along
with the networks that aired them and the advertisers that sponsored
them) after the broadcasts occurred.  The idea is to draw negative
attention to alleged anti-Christian trends (and in some cases, to
demand the cancellation of reruns).
Comes the revolution! This Christen right organization is going too
far. How come they never seem to mention other programs that have
murder,adultry, sex fetish's, mate swapping, nun bashing, among other
things...does 'Desperate Housewives' for one, ring a bell? Don't forget
"Grey Anatomy" with its so called premise of a hospital where its staff
sems to spend more time about their sex lives. Also, these auto ads
where they have practically naked women introducing a car or beer
ads...could go on and on..but those were the ones that really came to
FYI, that commercial that showed a football guy with a topless star of 
Desperate Housewives was roundly criticized--and I believe it was 
eventually yanked off the air.

American Family Association doesn't have unlimited resources.  So they 
pick their targets carefully for maximum effect.

Michael Medved, a conservative media critic, has criticized a lot of 
other entertainment.  So has Accuracy in Media, a conservative media 
watchdog organization.
[email protected] (Steven┬áL.) Michael Medved, a
conservative media critic
Was that a commercial?  I thought it was just an intro to a particular 
MNF game, a one-time thing.  It eventually got lots more airings as a 
result of the criticism, because shows like Entertainment Tonight and E! 
News showed it while reporting on the controversy.

Will religious groups ever learn that ignoring things like this is much 
more effective than raising everyone's awareness of them?
Sure.  If NBC broadcast another anti-Christian episode so soon after 
their "Book of Daniel" fiasco, they would be tagged as the 
"anti-Christian network"--and that's publicity they don't need right now.

In those cases, I'll bet the networks didn't issue press releases in 
advance.  So there was no point in AFA protesting those episodes after 
they already aired.

Whereas in this case, NBC's press release gave AFA an opportunity to 
plead that NBC rewrite the script before it gets aired.
April's pretty far off in TV land time so I don't think it's fair to assume 
the episode was already written. Usually the writing of these shows doesn't 
gel until shortly before production begins. Usually some idea needs to be 
pitched to get a guest actor to agree to appear. This is likely what was 
reported and not necessarily what the final product would have been. You 
people give too much credit to Wildman's group. In fact, you give him more 
attention than the group he's probably trying to talk to but doesn't listen. 
People who would be offended by such things don't watch Will and Grace in 
the first place. Your common sense should tell you that. I don't watch it. 
I'm not offended by TV shows or cartoons. I just think it sucks as a show 
and has worn out its welcome.
Since this is their last season there's a good chance that they're
already working on the final episodes so that they can let everyone go
Sorry, wrong.The writers are on the set to write new stuff between the
first and second takes of a scene.,
Phil Brown
What I suspect is that when they decided to cast Spears they started 
batting around ideas about how to use her.  The "Cruci-fixins" thing may 
have been one of those ideas, and maybe a writer or producer mentioned 
it to a friend, and they passed it on, and eventually it got to the AFA.

Of course, with all this passing on of the joke, it's also quite likely 
that it got distorted like the Telephone Game, so who knows what the 
actual idea was.
Nice theory -- only one problem: the "cruci-fixins" were in the press
release as it was written by NBC and published by NBC affiliates.

"Eventually it got to the AFA" by seeing it plastered all over the
Internet -- there was nothing second-hand or distorted about it.
It was mentioned in an official NBC press release.  Obviously, it was
planned for inclusion in the actual episode (until now).
Yep, while they're filming the April episode in January.

(Well, okay, they can do it at home in March or in April while the
episode is actually airing, but not letting go is pathetic and they
should instead try to find a new job.)