LOS ANGELES (AP) — When the A&E network suspended "Duck Dynasty" patriarch Phil Robertson for disparaging gay people, it may have followed a time-honored TV tradition of quickly silencing a star who, for better or worse, speaks his mind. But in doing so it also ruffled the feathers of possibly millions of fans of its most popular show.
Fourteen hours after it was learned that Robertson had been placed on indefinite "hiatus" for telling GQ magazine, among other things, that gays are headed to hell, more than a half-million people liked an impromptu Facebook page demanding the show be boycotted until he returns.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who had her picture taken with Robertson just last month, complained that his free-speech rights were being trampled. Bobby Jindal, governor of the state of Louisiana, where the show is filmed, complained that Miley Cyrus got a pass for twerking on TV while Phil got shown the door.
T-shirts, of course, went on the market with the words "I Don't Give a Duck About A or E, Bring Back Phil."
"It's a show that is promoting clean living and good moral values, and that's something we need more of today," one of the program's many fans, Rick Peter of Vernon, British Columbia, Canada, told The Associated Press.
It's also a show that 67-year-old Robertson, who sports a beard that seemingly should qualify him for immediate membership in the rock group ZZ Top, is at the center of.
When or if he'll return — or if he'll ever really go away, however — is an open question.
"Duck Dynasty" is on hiatus until Jan. 15, and a network spokesman said Thursday that nine of next season's 10 episodes have already been filmed. That means Robertson likely isn't needed in front of the camera before next March, by which time this whole crisis may have blown over.
And blow over it will, eventually, says veteran Hollywood crisis publicist Howard Bragman, who added that Robertson will likely return to the show as well, perhaps after making a heartfelt apology.
"There's too much money at stake," said Bragman, vice president of reputation.com. "Although he plays kind of a hick on TV, I don't think he's dumb. I think he gets what's at stake here. And I hope people on his team, the network and his producers get the message that what he did was wrong. "
The Robertson family released a statement on the Duck Commander website (http://bit.ly/1c5vI5G ) Thursday evening in which they expressed thanks for prayers and support. The statement said though some of Robertson's comments were coarse, "his beliefs are grounded" in the Bible and he "is a Godly man."
"We are disappointed that Phil has been placed on hiatus for expressing his faith," the statement said. "We have had a successful working relationship with A&E but as a family, we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm. We are in discussions with A&E to see what that means for the future of Duck Dynasty."
Robertson and his extended family became wealthy manufacturing duck calls and were turned into TV and pop culture stars by "Duck Dynasty," which has set cable ratings records for a non-fiction series.
"Duck Dynasty" is often the highest-rated cable show on television, and an episode last August that drew nearly 12 million viewers was the highest-rated of any show, cable or broadcast, that week.
Asked his definition of sinful behavior by GQ, Robertson replied, "Start with homosexual behavior and just go from there."
Then he continued, "Don't be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers — they won't inherit the kingdom of God. Don't deceive yourself. It's not right."
Although his suspension won quick praise from gay rights groups, it offended people like Peter, who says conservative views like his are often overlooked by Hollywood and the news media.
"I think we're getting a little bit tired of that pro-gay sentiment that's out there in the media and it's time to fight back," he said.
Randy Schmidt of Illinois agreed, saying that while gay people can be happy that some states have granted them the right to marry, "I find it unnecessary to flaunt it all over the media."
Ultimately, it doesn't matter what conservative fans may think, said another veteran crisis publicist, Michael Levine. A&E had no choice but to suspend Robertson, he said. If the network didn't, it would have had to deal with complaints from gay rights groups that would have made advertisers skittish and damaged the "Duck Dynasty" brand.
"The advertisers, the brand, people would stop buying 'Duck Dynasty' merchandise," he said. "At a certain point the brand just becomes radioactive."
This isn't the first time, of course, that someone has been taken off a popular show for remarks or behavior away from the cameras.
Isiah Washington was fired from "Grey's Anatomy" in 2007 for referring to one of his show's gay actors with a pejorative.
More recently, Charlie Sheen's erratic behavior got him tossed from "Two And a Half Men," even though the show was a hit and he was the star.
But the interesting thing about this controversy, said Bragman, who himself is gay, is that it seems to be occurring during a time when American culture is undergoing a profound shift in its feelings toward gay rights.
"The tide has turned in that there's an inevitability to gay marriage and gay rights in this country," he said, noting that New Mexico's highest court coincidentally upheld same-sex marriage rights on Thursday, the day after A&E's announcement.
"This is taking place during an interesting cultural touchstone moment," he added.
AP Television Writer Frazier Moore in New York contributed to this report. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and at http://www.twitter.com/tvfrazier.
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During<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/03/kirk-cameron-piers-morgan-homosexuality-unnatural_n_1318430.html" target="_hplink"> an interview with Piers Morgan</a>, the "Growing Pains" heartthrob who transitioned from a "teen-idol-atheist in Hollywood and became a devoted follower of Jesus Christ in the middle of [his] career" explained that he believes homosexuality is "unnatural... I think that it's detrimental, and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization." On the issue of marriage equality Cameron remarked, "Marriage was defined by God a long time ago. Marriage is almost as old as dirt, and it was defined in the garden between Adam and Eve -- one man, one woman for life till death do you part. So I would never attempt to try to redefine marriage. And I don't think anyone else should either. So do I support the idea of gay marriage? No, I don't."
In recent years, Gibson has become better known for his public tirades -- which have included racist, misogynistic, and anti-immigrant slurs -- than he has for any of his movies. But <em>The Advocate</em><a href="http://www.advocate.com/Arts_and_Entertainment/Entertainment_News/Mels_Meltdowns_Included_Antigay_Speech/" target="_hplink"> cites a 1991 interview</a> Gibson gave to the Spanish newspaper<em> El Pais</em>, in which he spoke about gay men: <blockquote>"They take it up the a** ... this is only for taking a s***," he said at the time. "With this look, who's going to think I'm gay? I don't lend myself to that type of confusion. Do I look like a homosexual? Do I talk like them? Do I move like them?"</blockquote> Gibson is also <a href="http://fromtheleft.wordpress.com/2010/07/12/mel-gibsons-vicious-homophobic-past/" target="_hplink">believed to have strongly counseled</a> Heath Ledger against taking the role of Ennis Del Mar in Ang Lee's Oscar-winning film "Brokeback Mountain."
The former "Saturday Night Live" star and now Tea Party activist sparked national furor when she <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/22/victoria-jackson-slams-glee-showbiz-tonight_n_838862.html" target="_hplink">slammed the hit show "Glee" after it featured a kiss between two gay characters</a> in a column for WorldNetDaily. In the column, Jackson wrote in response to an emotional, long awaited kiss between Kurt (Chris Colfer) and Blaine (Darren Criss). "Did you see "Glee" this week? Sickening! And, besides shoving the gay thing down our throats, they made a mockery of Christians - again! I wonder what their agenda is? Hey, producers of "Glee" - what's your agenda? One-way tolerance?" She later appeared on "Showbiz Tonight" to clarify her thoughts. "Well, it doesn't matter what I think," Jackson said. "What matters is what the Bible says. And I'm really concerned about our country because immorality is, well, let's see: secular humanism rules the airwaves, and it's stealing the innocence away from this whole generation of children. My daughter is a teenager and I can't find any show that she can watch." With that diatribe, Jackson was asked, based on her remarks, both in the column and in the interview, whether she was homophobic. "That's a cute little buzzword of the liberal agenda," Jackson smirked. "Basically, the Bible says that homosexuality is a sin."
Cee Lo Green
In June, the singer and "The Voice" co-host<a href="https://twitter.com/#!/ceelogreen" target="_hplink"> lashed out on Twitter</a> after a Minnesota music editor gave an episode of the hit series a lackluster review. He tweeted: "I respect your criticism, but be fair! People enjoyed last night! I'm guessing you're gay? And my masculinity offended you? Well f--k you!" As E Online is reporting, Cee Lo <a href="http://www.eonline.com/news/cee_lo_says_sorry_outrageous_homophobic/248478" target="_hplink">attempted an apology </a>on Twitter, writing: "Apologies gay community! What was homophobic about that? I said I was guessing he [was] gay which is fine but its nice to [know] what u think of me." The comment was deleted shortly thereafter.
It was no laughing matter when "Grey's Anatomy" actor Washington referred to co-star Knight as a "faggot" during an on-set argument with Patrick Dempsey. Though Washington later denied using the word backstage at the 2007 Golden Globes, Knight said he was inspired to come out publicly after hearing his co-star use the word. "I've never been called that to my face," he told Ellen Degeneres. "So I think when that happened, something shifted, and it became bigger than myself." Washington was fired from the show shortly thereafter, but said he believed racism had been a factor in his dismissal, and claimed that Knight had manipulated the controversy.
Last year, the 65-year-old entrepreneur <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/02/nyregion/after-roasting-trump-reacts-in-character.html" target="_hplink">compared the legalization of marriage equality</a> to his reluctance to use a new kind of putter during golf, according to <em>The New York Times</em>. "A lot of people -- I don't want this to sound trivial -- but a lot of people are switching to these really long putters, very unattractive," he said. "It's weird. You see these great players with these really long putters, because they can't sink three-footers anymore...I have so many fabulous friends who happen to be gay, but I am a traditionalist." <em>Correction: A previous version of this slide incorrectly stated Trump's age as 56. He is 65.</em>
The CNN analyst was <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/06/roland-martin-david-beckham-glaad-super-bowl_n_1257036.html" target="_hplink">slammed for remarks he made</a> during this year's Super Bowl XLVI. Martin, who was actively tweeting throughout the game, poked fun at men who may have liked David Beckham's H&M underwear ads. He wrote that "real bruhs" would not purchase underwear advertised by Beckham, and that people should "smack the ish out" of a male supporter of the ad. In condemning his comments, GLAAD cited earlier statements by Martin, such as <a href="http://www.rolandsmartin.com/page/news.cfm?ArticleID=10" target="_hplink">a column in which he said that his wife</a> has "counseled many men and women to walk away from the gay lifestyle, and to live a chaste life," to say that his latest tweets were part of an anti-gay pattern. He <a href="http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2012/02/cnns-martin-defends-himself-against-glaad-113600.html#.TzAAcpn3MjM.twitter" target="_hplink">later responded to the backlash</a>, noting, "I was not referring to sexuality directly or indirectly regarding the David Beckham ad, and I'm sorry folks took it otherwise. It was meant to be a deliberately over the top and sarcastic crack about soccer; I do not advocate violence of any kind against anyone gay, or not."
Exactly how effective Brown's anger management classes are going is questionable, given the series of<a href="http://www.eonline.com/news/chris_brown_drops_n-bombs_homophobic/218318" target="_hplink"> homophobic, racially-charged tweets</a> he sent out last December after rapper Raz, formerly of the group B2K, set him off. "@razb2k n---a you want attention!" he wrote. "Grow up n----a!!! Dick in da ass lil boy...Tell me this @razb2k!! Why when the money was coming in u won't complaining about getting butplugged! #homothug!!!" Later, Brown wrote, "I'm not homophobic! He's just disrespectful!!!"
No stranger to perceived homophobia, Shelton was heavily criticized <a href="https://twitter.com/#%21/blakeshelton/status/65999662171172865" target="_hplink">after he tweeted</a>, "Re-writing my fav Shania Twain song ... Any man that tries touching my behind he's gonna be a beaten, bleedin', heaving kind of guy." He later apologized for the gaffe via Twitter, noting: <blockquote>Hey y'all allow me to <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/blakeshelton/status/66171257435066368" target="_hplink">seriously apologize</a> for the misunderstanding with the whole re-write on the Shania song last night...</blockquote> <blockquote>It honestly <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/blakeshelton/status/66171941303762944" target="_hplink">wasn't even meant</a> that way... I now know that their are people out there waiting to jump at everything I say on here or anywhere</blockquote> <blockquote>But when it comes to<a href="https://twitter.com/#!/blakeshelton/status/66173127956242432" target="_hplink"> gay/lesbian rights</a> or just feelings... I love everybody. So go look for a real villain and leave me out of it!!!</blockquote> The original lyrics are, "Any man of mine better walk the line/ Better show me a teasin', squeezin', pleasin' kinda time."
Carolla came under fire by GLAAD in 2011, after going on a shocking <a href="http://www.tmz.com/2011/08/15/glaad-adam-carolla-lgbt-lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender-the-adam-carolla-show-podcast-loveline-comedy-intolerance-transgender/#.T1d4UJfLyRk" target="_hplink">anti-LGBT tirade on a podcast</a> for his radio show, asking, "When did we start giving a sh*t about these [transgender] people?" He also reportedly insisted the acronym LGBT should be dropped in favor of using "YUCK" instead. Carolla <a href="http://www.sheknows.com/entertainment/articles/838735/adam-carolla-apologizes-for-his-shocking-anti-gay-rant" target="_hplink">later apologized for the rant</a>, noting, "I'm sorry my comments were hurtful. I'm a comedian, not a politician."
Though he later claimed his account had been hacked, Soulja Boy got heat when the following message<a href="http://www.essence.com/2011/06/23/celebrity-homophobic-rants/#kobes_poor_courtside_behavioral" target="_hplink"> reportedly appeared on his Twitter</a>: "I'm gonna keep talking sh*t to these white f*ggots until they unlike my page. f**king weirdo stalkers!"
Last year, the comedian came under fire for jokes he made during a stand-up act. <a href="http://www.tmz.com/2011/06/10/tracy-morgan-homophobic-act-rant-comedy-gay-threats-kill-son-30-rock/#.T1d3gpfLyRk" target="_hplink">Among the choice reported bits</a>: <blockquote>"Gays need to quit being p**sies and not be whining about something as insignificant as bullying." On the possibility of his son being gay -- Morgan said he "better talk to me like a man and not in a gay voice or I'll pull out a knife and stab that little n**ger to death." Afterward, Tracy told the crowd, "I don't "f*cking care if I piss off some gays, because if they can take a f*cking d**k up their ass, they can take a f*cking joke."</blockquote> Later, he <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/10/tracy-morgans-homophobic-remarks_n_874699.html" target="_hplink">apologized in a statement</a> to The Huffington Post: <blockquote>I want to apologize to my fans and the gay & lesbian community for my choice of words at my recent stand-up act in Nashville. I'm not a hateful person and don't condone any kind of violence against others. While I am an equal opportunity jokester, and my friends know what is in my heart, even in a comedy club this clearly went too far and was not funny in any context.</blockquote>
Ronnie Magro ("Jersey Shore")
The "Jersey Shore" came under fire when <a href="http://www.queerty.com/jersey-shores-ronnie-fulfills-guido-stereotype-of-being-a-homophobe-20100215/" target="_hplink">"unseen footage" of the show surfaced</a>, in which he used the terms "f**king faggot" and "f**king queer" during an altercation with an unidentified man on the Seaside Heights boardwalk. TMZ reports the reality star <a href="http://www.tmz.com/2010/02/19/ronnie-jersey-shore-homophobic-rant-apology/" target="_hplink">later tweeted an apology</a>, noting, "I apologize to my fans, In the heat of the moment i said a lot of things i didnt mean and im very sorry."
Alan Osmond, who shot to fame in the late 1960s and early '70s as one of The Osmonds, took heat in November <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/09/alan-osmond-anti-gay-article_n_1084463.html" target="_hplink">for penning an article</a> that some in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) blogsophere deemed homophobic. In his article for<a href="http://thefamily.com/" target="_hplink"> the website The Family</a>, the 62-year-old Osmond brother, who is Mormon, not only argued that being gay is not genetic, but also comes out in defense of "reparation" therapy, which is sought by those seeking to change their sexual orientation: <blockquote>Research has NOT proved that homosexuality is genetic. Even more important, many researchers whose studies have been used to support a biological model for homosexuality have determined that their work has been MISINTERPRETED. What is clear is that homosexuality results from an interaction of social, biological, and psychological factors. These factors may include temperament, personality traits, sexual abuse, familial factors, and treatment by one's peers.</blockquote> Before noting that "treatment success rates that exceed 50 percent," Osmond continued: <blockquote>Developmental factors aside, can individuals diminish homosexual attraction and make changes in their lives? Yes. There is substantial evidence, both historical and current, to indicate this is the case.</blockquote>
The rapper was slammed <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/50cent/status/23161813105" target="_hplink">after he tweeted</a>: "Perez Hilton calld me douchebag so I had my homie shoot up a gay wedding. wasnt his but still made me feel better." He was also called particularly insensitive <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/50cent/status/25954812348" target="_hplink">when he tweeted:</a> "If you a man and your over 25 and you don't eat pu**y just kill your self damn it. The world will be a better place. Lol"
With her danceable music and glamorous style, Donna Summer became an instant icon for the gay community during her 1970s heyday. So when she allegedly made a number of religion-inspired remarks about the gay community as well as HIV/AIDS during a 1983 performance, the "Queen of Disco" faced an immediate backlash. "It was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve," Summer was quoted as having said during the Atlantic City concert by the <em>Village Voice</em>. She is said to have also noted, "I've seen the evil homosexuality come out of you people... AIDS is the result of your sins. Now don't get me wrong; God loves you. But not the way you are now." She denied making the remarks for years afterward, calling the accusations "unjust and unfair." Summer noted in a letter addressed to members of ACT UP, "I did not say God is punishing gays with AIDS, I did not sit with ill intentions in judgement over your lives. I haven't stopped talking to my friends who are gay, nor have I ever chosen my friends by their sexual preferences."