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2 NBC affiliates refuse to air controversial ‘Book of Daniel’; show said to mock Christ

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Controversy surrounding the new NBC drama “The Book of Daniel,” which conservatives say blatantly mocks Jesus Christ and Christian families, has caused at least two of the television network’s affiliates to pull the show.

KARK in Little Rock, Ark., and WTWO in Terre Haute, Ind., said sensitivity to viewers led them to cancel plans to air The Book of Daniel when it premiers tonight at 10 p.m. Eastern, according to the Associated Press.

“Our relationship with NBC always provided for the right to reject programming. I am reaffirming that right to let them know I will not allow them to make unilateral decisions affecting our viewers,” Duane Lammers, general manager of WTWO, said in a statement on the station’s website. “Second, I want to draw attention to the worst offenders of indecency on television … the cable industry, which faces no decency regulations, nor a license renewal.

“If my action causes people in our community to pay more attention to what they watch on television, I have accomplished my mission,” Lammers added.

The Little Rock affiliate provided a similar explanation of its decision, saying, “After careful consideration, watching the program and most importantly listening to our viewers and engaging them in dialogue, we have decided not to air the NBC program ‘The Book of Daniel’ this Friday night. We appreciate hearing from so many of our viewers who expressed their heartfelt opinions on both sides of the issue.”

KWBF, the WB affiliate for central Arkansas, opted to pick up the show instead.

Conservative groups including the American Family Association and Focus on the Family have urged supporters to contact their local NBC affiliates to protest the show, which stars a drug-addicted Episcopal priest who has a wife who downs mid-day martinis, a 23-year-old son who is a homosexual Republican, a 16-year-old daughter who sells marijuana and a 16-year-old adopted son who is having sexual relations with the bishop’s daughter.

The show, produced by a homosexual ex-Catholic, also includes a figure called “Jesus,” who wears a white robe and beard and casually converses with the main character.

Focus on the Family’s Bob Waliszewski said that after previewing the pilot and an additional episode of The Book of Daniel, he found the program “extremely repulsive in its portrayal of Jesus Christ and intentionally offensive in its flippant attitude” toward immorality.

Waliszewski said in a statement on the Focus on the Family website Jan. 5 that Jesus is made to look like a “wimpy, white-robed visitor who cares little about evil, addictions and perversity. This Christ glosses over a teenager’s sexual romps with a ‘He’s a kid, let him be a kid.’”

“I doubt NBC would consider portraying a Muslim cleric or Buddhist monk in the same light. And rightly so,” Waliszewski added. “Why? Because to do so would be mean-spirited and insensitive. But for some reason, portraying Jesus as a namby-pamby frat-boy-guru is fine. I’m extremely disappointed that NBC has chosen to air this program.”

Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales wrote, “I cannot recall a series in which a greater number of characters seemed so desperately detestable…. There ought to be a worse punishment than cancellation for a show that tries this hard to be offensive and, even at that crass task, manages to fail.”

A New York Times reviewer, Ned Martel, recounted the series’ various seedy plotlines over five paragraphs, but then noted: “The real objection [to the show] is that it’s just not very good.”

A USA Today reviewer, Robert Bianco, meanwhile, gave his blessing to a show that deals with “a man striving to live his faith, protect his family and live up to the words he reads from the pulpit…. These are people I want to watch.” He described the show as “witty, earnest, intelligent, overdone, overly ambitious, wildly entertaining and superbly cast.”

The show is produced by NBC Universal Television Studio and Sony Pictures Television.

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