NBC cancels ads for Dixie docu 'Sing'

The Weinstein Co. is claiming that NBC and the CW have refused to air national ads for the new Dixie Chicks docu “Shut Up & Sing.”

But while the Peacock has specifically said it won’t accept the spots because they are disparaging of President Bush, a rep for the CW strongly denies the Weinsteins version of events.

Barbara Kopple’s docu, which opens today in Gotham and L.A., revisits the fierce fallout that occurred in 2003 after lead singer Natalie Maines said she was ashamed that the president is from Texas, her home state.

The national spot shows a clip of Bush authorizing troops to fight in Iraq, then cuts to a clip of Maines’ comment. Next is a clip of the president saying publicly that the Dixie Chicks shouldn’t have their feelings hurt if people don’t want to buy their records anymore. The final frame shows Maines saying that Bush is a “real dumb (bleep).”

TWC wanted the national ads to begin running next week in preparation for the movie’s expansion on Nov. 11. Company said it hasn’t heard back yet from the commercial clearance departments at ABC, CBS and Fox.

“It’s a sad commentary about the level of fear in our society that a movie about a group of courageous entertainers who were blacklisted for exercising their right of free speech is now itself being blacklisted by corporate America,” Harvey Weinstein said in a statement. “The idea that anyone should be penalized for criticizing the president is profoundly un-American.”

According to the Weinstein Co., NBC’s commercial clearance department said in writing that it “cannot accept these spots as they are disparaging to President Bush.”

TWC also quoted a rep from the CW as saying it had concerns that “we do not have appropriate programming in which to schedule this spot.”

CW communications topper Paul McGuire rejected that version of events.

“That’s not true,” he said. “The spot was not declined. In fact, we were told they were not going to make a national spot buy on CW.”

An email exchange obtained by Daily Variety between a media buyer for TWC and a CW standards and practices rep seems to back that up. The CW reps asks the media buyer if “you have a buy with us for the Dixie Chicks movie?” The ad rep for TWC replies, “We do not currently have a national buy with CW.”

The Weinstein Co. isn’t facing a total blockade against its ad.

Spot in question aired on the ABC-owned stations in New York and L.A. earlier this week during a broadcast of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” featuring the Dixie Chicks.

Ad has also aired on Peacock-owned stations in New York and L.A., as well as on CW affils in the same markets.

Earlier this week, CNN and National Public Radio said they wouldn’t accept ads for the controversial film “Death of a President,” about the fictional assassination of Bush. CNN said it had decided not to take the ads because of the “extreme nature” of the pic’s storyline.

TWC said it will explore taking legal action.

East Coast-based Peacock sales execs couldn’t be reached for comment, an NBC spokesman said.

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