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NBC cancels ‘Book of Daniel’; AFA notes ‘pocketbook’ toll

LOS ANGELES (BP)–NBC’s foray into irreverent religion ended Jan. 24 with the cancellation of “The Book of Daniel” after three episodes.

Instead of the show at its Friday night time slot, NBC’s schedule for Jan. 27 lists a rerun of “Law & Order.”

The show’s most outspoken critic, Donald Wildmon, founder and chairman of the American Family Association, celebrated the news that low ratings, a dwindling roster of sponsors and reluctant affiliates had taken a toll on the show that spotlights an Episcopal priest and his family in various quagmires of promiscuity, homosexuality, alcoholism and drug abuse. The show also featured a “Jesus” who engaged in easygoing dialogue with the priest.

“NBC’s decision to pull The Book of Daniel shows the power of the pocketbook,” Wildmon wrote to supporters via AFA’s website. “Because of your efforts, the sponsors dropped the program.”

Wildmon noted, “Had NBC not had to eat millions of dollars each time it aired, NBC would have kept The Book of Daniel on the air.”

Even an “impassioned plea” by the show’s creator, Jack Kenny, “could not match your participation,” Wildmon told supporters.

Kenny, on his Internet blog, had urged Book of Daniel enthusiasts to contact its sponsors and NBC affiliates on behalf of the struggling series. “Ordinarily, I would never ask anyone to do this,” Kenny wrote, “but the AFA and bullies like them are hard at work to try and prevent you from seeing these beautiful shows, and that is censorship — pure and simple. And that is both un-Christian and un-American.”

Wildmon said Kenny’s attitude “is typical in today’s society. Non-Christians telling Christians what is Christian. … People like Kenny don’t want people like you to have a voice. They want to deny you the right to get involved. You are supposed to sit back and take the trash. And when you do speak up they call you names.

“This shows us that we don’t have to simply sit back and take the trash, but we can get involved and fight back with our pocketbooks. I want to thank the 678,394 individuals who sent emails to NBC and the thousands who called and emailed their local affiliates.”

According to various news reports, the number of Book of Daniel sponsors had dwindled to one, Burlington Coat Factory, while the number of NBC affiliates refusing to air the show had risen to 11.

Kenny, a self-styled “gay Christian,” said after the cancellation on his blog, “There were many wonderful, talented people who contributed to [the show’s] success — and I do mean success. Whatever the outcome, I feel that I accomplished what I set out to do: A solid family drama, with lots of humor, that honestly explored the lives of the [fictional Daniel] Webster family. Good, flawed people, who loved each other no matter what … and there was always a lot of ‘what’! I remain proud of our product, proud of my association with Sony, NBC Universal, and NBC, who all took a chance on a project that spoke to them, and proud to have made an impact on so many of your lives.”

NBC Universal’s subsidiary, Focus Features, is the production and distribution company for “Brokeback Mountain,” a feature film about two homosexual cowboys. The film currently is riding a wave of popularity among movie critics as the Jan. 31 Oscar nominations approach.

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