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10/10/97 Ellen’s threat to quit called ‘good news’ for Disney boycott

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Ellen Degeneres is threatening to quit her sitcom because it has been given a “TV-14” by ABC-TV, a subsidiary of The Disney Company.
The TV-14 rating means the show “might be inappropriate for children under 14,” according to TV industry definitions.
Degeneres’ threat is “good news,” said Donald Wildmon, founder of the American Family Association, one of the groups at the forefront of a growing boycott of the Disney empire.
Ellen’s threat, Wildmon said, actually communicates good news about the boycott, which gained a new level of momentum this summer when the protest of Disney’s moral direction was joined by the Southern Baptist Convention, in a vote by messengers to the SBC annual meeting in Dallas.
“ABC probably was prompted (to attach the TV-14 rating) because of the economic situation,” Wildmon said. “The boycott is having an effect, and this is a reflection of that effect.”
Degeneres called the TV-14 rating “blatant discrimination,” according to an Oct. 9 New York Times news story.
“The only other ABC show that’s ever had this label is ‘N.Y.P.D. Blue,’ and that has nudity and violence,” Degeneres said.
A corporate spokesperson for ABC, Patricia Matson, explained the rating, The Times reported, by saying, “We are ultimately the ones responsible for maintaining the standards for our audience. The promise we have made to our audience is to provide them with as much information as possible so they can decide what is appropriate for their children to watch.”
ABC and Disney, of course, gave approval for Ellen to become network TV’s first homosexual lead character in a much-promoted episode last spring. The network further inflamed its religious critics this fall by launching a show about an irreverent priest, titled, “Nothing Sacred.”
Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, observed Oct. 10, “Ellen is threatening to quit over the TV-14 rating precisely because she fervently believes lesbianism is normal, not deviant, and is a suitable subject for children, and that her portrayal of a supposedly normal lesbian will help to draw tens of thousands of children into that lifestyle as well.
“That is precisely why tens of millions of Americans are outraged and are boycotting the people responsible for putting this blatantly homosexual propaganda on the air,” Land stated.
“I am delighted that the TV rating system that we earnest sought is doing what we knew it would do — flush the camouflaged mind-benders and mind-changers in the media out into the open and reveal their true colors,” Land added. “It’s called honesty in advertising.”
Degeneres, in TV Guide’s Oct. 11-17 cover story, gave further vent to her concerns about her sitcom — and her homosexual advocacy and lifestyle.
She told TV Guide she wants to be remembered after her sitcom as “someone who helped change people’s minds.”
“I still think in 30 years we’ll be dealing with homophobia, and it would be nice to have ‘Ellen’ on Nick at Nite along with Mary Tyler Moore, someone that (gay) kids could identify with.”
Degeneres’ comments parallel those she made in accepting an Emmy for comedy writing in September: “On behalf of the people — and the teenagers especially — out there who think there is something wrong with them because they’re gay: There’s nothing wrong with you, and don’t let anyone make you ashamed of who you are.”
Said Land, “Everyone knows that media and entertainment change minds and attitudes; that is why everyone wants access to the media and entertainment venues.
“Ellen is clarly about seeking to normalize, affirm and mainstream honosexuality into American culture,” Land reiterated. “Ellen Degeneres says so, the producers say so and her homosexual and lesbian supporters say so. We should believe them and applaud their momentary honesty in advertising.”
In the TV Guide article, Degeneres responded to comments by ABC’s entertainment president, Jamie Tarses, that “Ellen” “won’t be the lesbian dating show” and that the network is taking “baby steps” in the show’s unfolding focus on Ellen’s homosexuality.
Said Degeneres, “And when I hear ‘baby steps,’ that makes me feel bad. It’s like they’re saying, ‘OK, you’re gay, and we’re tolerating this, but don’t show us how you really would be, don’t kiss a girl on the lips.'”
The magazine reported that Degeneres had pushed for her character being depicted this year as having a more intimate, lasting relationship with a woman, to “make Ellen more of an adult, to make the stories more real.” To which ABC’s Tarses replied, “And we’re behind it, but it’s premature to say where it’s all going.”
According to The New York Times article, ABC has nixed a scene from an upcoming Ellen episode showing Ellen and her female companion walking toward a bedroom, presumably to have homosexual sex.
As to her personal life with actress Anne Heche, Degeneres acknowledged to TV Guide reports of them possibly having a baby.
“For a long time, I wanted a baby,” she told TV Guide. “But right now, I’m too selfish. I just can’t.” Of Heche’s desire to become pregnant with a baby, Degeneres said, “Yeah, Anne usually gets what she wants, but what you don’t know is that I’m the boss of this relationship.”
Degeneres described her relationship with Heche by saying, “… this is it for me, for both of us, forever. … If Anne goes (before her in death), I want to go, that’s how strongly I feel.”