AFA TARGETS NBC’S ‘WILL & GRACE’

Claims Britney Spears Plotline Disrespectful to Christianity

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The American Family Association just can’t leave NBC alone. Weeks after it successfully mounted a campaign against the network’s midseason show “Book of Daniel,” the organization is going after Thursday night stalwart “Will & Grace” for an episode guest-starring Britney Spears as a Christian conservative sidekick to Jack.
Photo: AP
Britney Spears will appear on NBC's "Will & Grace" as a co-host for a Christian TV network show that includes a cooking segment, "Cruci-fixin's."

In the episode, “Out TV,” the fictional network that airs Jack’s “Jack Talk” TV program is bought by a Christian TV network, and Ms. Spears’ character is brought on to be Jack’s new religious co-host. She introduces a cooking segment on the show called “Cruci-fixin’s.”

'Anti-Christian bigotry'
Randy Sharp, director of special projects for the American Family Association, which is based in Tupelo, Miss., and headed by Donald Wildmon, called the program a "direct attack on people of faith” from a network that "has a history of anti-Christian bigotry.”

“They would not be making fun of Mohammed or Buddha,” he said. “It’s almost sacrilegious. I wonder who is at the helm of NBC that they are not getting the message. NBC doesn’t seem concerned that they are tanking because they are offending their viewers and running them off.”

Mr. Sharp said NBC should be aware from its battle over “The Book of Daniel” and two years ago over “God, the Devil and Bob” that it is risking its audience. He also criticized a pre-Christmas “Saturday Night Live” skit that he said “ripped up sacred [Christmas] hymns.”

Gloating over victory
While the AFA is clearly gloating over the “Book of Daniel” victory it claimed Jan. 24 when the show was canceled after three episodes with virtually no outside advertisers, Mr. Wildmon’s group will have a much tougher job taking on “Will & Grace,” an established show in its final season. Additionally, it’s likely that few of Mr. Wildmon’s supporters are regular watchers of the show. NBC didn’t comment on the AFA’s allegations.

“I don’t think they’ll have an impact on ‘Will & Grace,’” said Rino Scanzoni, chief investment officer at Mediaedge:cia. “It’s been around awhile. ‘Book of Daniel’ was an easier target because it was loaded with controversial issues, players and storylines.”

The AFA’s Mr. Sharp said the group hadn’t seen the “Will and Grace” episode, but didn’t have to.

“We didn’t see ‘Book of Daniel’ [when the group’s campaign against the show was launched] and it was worse than we thought.”

Mr. Sharp said the initial effort is aimed at NBC stations, but it will be followed by efforts to get its members to contact the show's advertisers.

“The good thing is that the advertisers are sensitive to the consumer base,” he said.

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