‘South’ under siege

Org takes to Internet to urge show boycott

WASHINGTON — Citing violent content in the “Brooklyn South” pilot, a watchdog group is organizing a petition drive urging CBS stations not to air the Steven Bochco production.

The Tupelo, Miss.-based American Family Assn. is highlighting its campaign against “Brooklyn South” by noting that it is the first Big Three network series to be tagged with a TV-MA content rating, which designates shows that are appropriate for adults only.

The “Brooklyn South” pilot, which will air Sept. 22, is expected to carry a TV-MA rating because of violence and adult language, a CBS spokesman confirmed. Future episodes are expected to come in with a TV-14 label, the spokesman said.

The petition, which is being circulated via the Internet, asks stations to “demonstrate civic and moral responsibility” by refusing to air “Brooklyn South.”

“This is proof that the networks don’t care about parental concerns that violence on television creates a more violent culture in which their children live,” AFA vice president Tim Wildmon said.

CBS has been upfront about the controversial content, insisting that it is central to the story. “The violence is not gratuitous,” a CBS spokesman said. “It is part of a compelling drama that explores what it is like to be a beat cop in Brooklyn.”

An ‘extreme’ defense

CBS Entertainment president Leslie Moonves has vigorously defended the show, which he calls “the best new television drama this season.” At the same time, he has been upfront about the violence, telling critics at last month’s press tour that the show’s violence is “extreme.”

Although the pilot will not air for five weeks, several reports about the show have focused on a shoot-out in which a character’s head explodes from the impact of a bullet. Moonves called the scene “shocking.”

But when it comes to violence in “Brooklyn South,” Moonves said, “It’s trying to show violence is not pretty.” Bochco and executive producer David Milch refused to comment Thursday.

Wildmon told Daily Variety on Thursday that CBS is trying to attract viewers by highlighting the show’s violence. “(Moonves) seems to be bragging on the fact that ‘Brooklyn South’ is going to be gory and violent,” Wildmon said. He has not seen the pilot, and is basing his views on reports by TV critics.

A CBS spokesman emphatically denied that CBS is trying to promote the violent content of “Brooklyn South.” “We are not going out of our way to promote the rating,” the spokesman said.

This is not the first time that Bochco has tangled with the AFA. Wildmon’s father, AFA president Donald Wildmon, organized a boycott of ABC’s “NYPD Blue” when that show first aired in 1993. The AFA also is participating in a boycott of the Walt Disney Co., organized by fundamentalist Christians who claim the Disney Co.’s refusal to discriminate against homosexuals amounts to an anti-family agenda. AFA members have also been asked to boycott products advertised on ABC’s “Ellen.”

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