Network executives at A&E are hoping the holiday spirit will squash any negative feelings towards “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson, after his statement in GQ magazine that caused controversy.
A source close to the situation said that while Phil has been suspended from the network, they still plan to air episodes of Duck Dynasty featuring him when the fourth season debuts January 15. They also will include him in the fifth season of the show.
The insider revealed, “There’s no negotiation to have; we’re doing the show. We’ll figure out a solution. It’s just not going to happen overnight. Everybody will take a break for the holidays and regroup afterward. That’s probably the smartest thing for everyone to do. Time heals a lot of wounds.”
Robertson was suspended “indefinitely” from Duck Dynasty after he linked homosexuality to bestiality.
The patriarch of the Louisiana duck-calling family, also grouped homosexuality with terrorism and prostitution in an interview with GQ magazine for the January 2014 issue.
The A&E network initially broke its silence following the reality star’s shocking comments, stating, “We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty. His personal views in no way reflect those of A&E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely”.
The reality show has been a huge success for A&E, with a Christmas special recently pulling in 9 million viewers.
Phil Robertson, 67, came under fire from gay rights group GLAAD after making the homophobic comments in the January 2014 issue of GQ magazine. He told the magazine, “Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong… Sin becomes fine. Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.”
There has been a huge outpouring of support after Robertson’s remarks, with fans signing online petitions to bring Phil back.
Since its initial air date of March 21, 2012, Duck Dynasty has grown in the ratings for A&E, eventually becoming a ratings hit for the cable network.
On August 14, 2013, the fourth season premiere nabbed 11.8 million viewers, making the show the most-watched nonfiction series telecast in the history of cable television.
The fifth season of the show begins on January 15.
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