“Married … With Children” co-creator and executive producer Michael Moye is charging Fox Broadcasting Co. with censorship after web executives killed a proposed two-part episode of the show.
In an effort to avoid offending Congress amid a Capitol Hill crackdown on TV violence, Moye said, the weblet nixed episodes in which Al Bundy lobbies Congress after his favorite show, “Psycho Dad,” is abruptly canceled.
In protest, Moye is refusing to work on the two replacement episodes needed to complete the show’s 26-episode order. Fox declined comment on the matter.
“This is nothing other than censorship for fear of congressional reprisal,” Moye said. “I can’t stand cowardice, and it bothers me that Fox folded faster than a 40-year veteran at a hand laundry. Though the scripts were just being written when this happened, as far as I’m concerned, these two shows have my name on them as producer. They’ll have to bring in somebody else, because I’m taking my name off for those two weeks.”
“Psycho Dad” is a fictitious Western that Bundy (Ed O’Neill) has watched over the past four seasons of “Married.” Moye described it as “‘The Rifleman’ as a sociopath, a cowboy who rides with his son and shoots everybody, especially anyone who’d try and discipline the boy.”
The episodes were timed around the recent congressional hearings in which Attorney General Janet Reno warned broadcasters to clean up their acts before Congress did it for them.
Though network sources said last week that nixing episodes in the idea or script stage is common practice on the racy sitcom, Moye insisted the network tried to soften the show’s content only once before, when housewife Terry Rakolta called for an advertiser boycott. “Fox told the press they stood behind the creative staff, but backstage they were asking for it to be softened,” he said.
“The idea that you can’t have a fictional character lobby Congress when a fictional show within a fictional show gets canceled is the height of absurdity. Do they actually believe it will cause (Illinois Sen.) Paul Simon to rescind Fox’s license, that they’re walking around Washington talking about fixing the Al Bundy problem? It’s the height, or depth, of cowardice. I sympathize with Congress’s inability to solve violence on television, but this is like saying that because you can’t cure poverty, you’ll ban episodes of ‘Gilligan’s Island’ with Thurston Howell III.
“I could see them pulling an episode in which Al Bundy buys a gun and accidentally shoots a 15-year-old in the head,” said Moye, who created the show 8 1/2 years ago with Ron Leavitt. “But everyone knows that Bundy is against neutering his dog, eating healthy or allowing any kind of advancement for women. But what bothers me is that Fox tells me they know it’s absurd, but they want me to sell out and give up my principles. I won’t do it.”
Moye, noting that Fox has won the right to broadcast National Football League games, wonders if the network “should worry about the violence in football games , because you never know if a drive-by scrimmage will occur.”
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