Duck Dynasty Row: Fans Demand Boycott
Millions of fans and a few national leaders have spoken out against the suspension of Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson.
Robertson, 67, was taken off the hit A&E reality TV series for comments quoted in GQ magazine in which he called homosexuality a sin.
A&E announced on Thursday that Robertson had been placed on indefinite "hiatus", adding it was extremely disappointed to see his anti-gay remarks which it said were based on his personal beliefs.
The channel's move was lauded by the gay civil rights group GLAAD, which had quickly condemned Robertson's comments.
But more than a half-million people have shown their support for an impromptu Facebook page demanding the show be boycotted until Robertson returns.
Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, who had her picture taken with the TV star 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".
"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 programme's many fans, Rick Peter of Vernon, British Columbia, Canada, told The Associated Press.
Duck Dynasty is on "hiatus" until January 15, and a network spokesman said on Thursday that nine of next season's 10 episodes have already been filmed.
It means Robertson is not needed in front of the camera before next March, by which time the crisis may have blown over, according to veteran Hollywood crisis publicist Howard Bragman.
He believes Robertson is likely to return to the show, perhaps after making a public apology.
"There's too much money at stake," Mr Bragman said. "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."
The Robertson family released a statement on the Duck Commander website in which they expressed thanks for prayers and support.
It said: "We are disappointed that Phil has been placed on hiatus for expressing his faith.
"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 were turned into TV and pop culture stars by Duck Dynasty, which has set cable ratings records for a non-fiction series.
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