Monday, January 23, 2006

Book of Daniel's creator asking fans to contact stations

From Religion News Service
The creator of NBC's The Book of Daniel is warning viewers that "bullies" at the American Family Association may succeed in their fight to kill the show unless viewers speak up.

The fundamental (no pun intended) problem here seems to be that no one besides liberal Episcopalians wants to watch the show. Orthodox Christians are offended, and the atheists probably have no interest in a show about screwed-up Christians. Are we "bullies" required to watch crap in order to support this guy and stoke his ego?

Jack Kenny, the creative force behind the prime-time drama about an Episcopal priest and his dysfunctional family, posted his appeal on a blog,, whose host is the Episcopal Diocese of Washington.

And here we have an excellent example of the disconnect between the power structure of ECUSA and the laity in the pews. The first thing you want to know about people is not their ecclesial credentials, but "What does the world look like to you when you get up in the morning?" Those in charge of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington obviously have a much different perception of what the world is like than the rest of us do.

Kenny asked fans to contact stations in support of the show, and thank a dwindling number of sponsors for advertising during the Friday show, which airs at 10 p.m. Eastern time.

The dwindling number of sponsors is probably due more to the nonexistent number of viewers. Complaints and boycott threats only work if the potential loss from the complaints outweighs the potential gain from exposing your product to the viewers.

"Ordinarily, I would never ask anyone to do this, 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," Kenny wrote. "And that is both un-Christian and un-American."

That's a really desperate appeal: takes me back to the old days when they'd advertise a book or movie as "Banned in Boston!" If somebody thinks it's scandalous, then deep down inside, you really, really want to peek at it, don't you? It can't possibly be that my show is awful - it has to be their fault.

The family association, based in Tupelo, Miss., has rallied opposition to the show's lurid content - especially the Jesus character, which they say is disrespectful. The show features a pill-popping priest, his alcoholic wife, a daughter who sells drugs and a gay son.

So far, association officials say that 11 NBC affiliates in Tennessee, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Indiana have refused to broadcast the show. In addition, association officials said that four companies have pulled their ads during the show, and only one company - Burlington Coat Factory - continues to advertise during The Book of Daniel.

"NBC is losing between $2 (million) and $3 million each time they air The Book of Daniel," said Donald Wildmon, the association's chairman. "With those kinds of losses, NBC may decide to cancel the show."

Since NBC is a corporation, owned by General Electric, I believe, whose primary reason for existing is to make money for its shareholders, I suspect they may indeed cancel a show which hemorrhages money. The show's last rating was 4.1, which I expect puts it about even with Leave It to Beaver reruns.

NBC has committed to only eight episodes. Kenny, a self-described "unaffiliated Christian," said that the next two episodes (scheduled to be broadcast Friday and Feb. 3) are important to the characters' development.

Episode 5: The Episcopal Church decides to ordain quadrupeds. Fr. Daniel must come to terms with his cantakerous new assistant rector, a randy woodchuck. The family parrot sues the church for discrimination against winged creatures. The bishop is arrested for DUI and shares a jail cell with lesbian bikers.

"Please believe me when I tell you that the stories that we are about to tell you ... are the most heartbreakingly beautiful stories I've ever had the pleasure of being associated with," Kenny said.

For some reason, that just sounds scary.