Story by the Associated Press; curated by Dave Urbanski
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Louisiana's lieutenant governor says the "Duck Dynasty" reality TV show is important to state tourism — and he could help connect the Robertson family with new producers if they cannot reach agreement with the A&E network.
The network suspended patriarch Phil Robertson last week for making controversial comments about homosexuals to GQ magazine.
This 2012 photo released by A&E shows, from left, Phil Robertson, Jase Robertson, Si Robertson and Willie Robertson from the A&E series, "Duck Dynasty." (Image source: AP/A&E, Zach Dilgard)
"Regardless of one's views on Phil Robertson's statements, 'Duck Dynasty' has been an important representation of the state of Louisiana, inspiring prospective visitors and investors since its debut," Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne said in a statement emailed Saturday.
Dardenne, who authored the state's film and TV tax credit program, said he would use his influence in the state's industry to help the Robertsons.
"If the Robertson family cannot come to an agreement with A&E and wants to continue the show, Louisiana already has the infrastructure in place to maintain their record-breaking program," he wrote.
The show is produced around the Robertson family's home base in Ouachita Parish. KNOE-TV of Monroe reported in February that the show was bringing people from around the country who wouldn't otherwise stop in northeast Louisiana. The Duck Commander warehouse has become a tourist attraction, said Alana Cooper, director of the Monroe-West Monroe Visitors and Convention Bureau.
Dardenne, whose job includes running the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, said the "Duck Dynasty" audience of tens of millions of viewers is eager to visit Louisiana.
The lieutenant governor did not immediately answer a request for comment Sunday.
Dardenne's boss, Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal, called it a “messed-up situation when Miley Cyrus gets a laugh, and Phil Robertson gets suspended.”
“Phil Robertson and his family are great citizens of the state of Louisiana. The politically correct crowd is tolerant of all viewpoints, except those they disagree with.” Jindal said in a statement. “I don’t agree with quite a bit of stuff I read in magazine interviews or see on TV. In fact, come to think of it, I find a good bit of it offensive. But I also acknowledge that this is a free country and everyone is entitled to express their views. In fact, I remember when TV networks believed in the First Amendment. It is a messed up situation when Miley Cyrus gets a laugh, and Phil Robertson gets suspended.”
More than 1.7 million fans have liked an impromptu Facebook page titled "Boycott A&E Until Phil Robertson Is Put Back On Duck Dynasty" — one of numerous pages with similar names, though none of the others has even 1 percent as many "likes."
"Duck Dynasty" is on hiatus until Jan. 15. A network spokesman told the AP on 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.