A&E leashes ‘Dog’ after tirade

Comments put 'Hunter' in deep

A&E has suspended production on the fifth season of “Dog the Bounty Hunter” while it investigates star Duane Chapman’s racist tirade, which the National Enquirer captured on tape.

“We take this matter very seriously,” A&E said in a statement, adding that it will “take appropriate action” when it completes the investigation.

Chapman, in a statement emailed to reporters from his home in Honolulu, said, “My sincerest heartfelt apologies go out to every person I have offended for my regrettable use of very inappropriate language.” He used the word “nigger” repeatedly in referring to his son’s girlfriend in two separate phone calls, which are available in streaming audio on the National Enquirer’s website.

The phone calls were “completely taken out of context,” Chapman said in his statement. He acknowledges, however, that “I should have never used that term,” adding that he has the “utmost respect … for black people.”

There’s a lot at stake for A&E in this controversy. Weekly reality series “Dog the Bounty Hunter” is the network’s highest-rated show. In 96 original episodes since “Dog” premiered on Aug. 30, 2004, the half-hour has averaged 2.05 million total viewers, which is 62% above A&E’s primetime average for that period (1.27 million viewers).

“Dog” does even better among adults 18-34 (up by 127% over the three-plus years) and adults 18-49 (up 96%).

In his statement, Chapman said, “I am meeting with my spiritual adviser, Rev. Tim Storey , and hope to meet with other black leaders so they can see who I really am and teach me the right thing to do to make things right again.”

The fifth season of “Dog” was about to start taping when A&E called a temporary halt to production.

A&E has suspended production on Duane Chapman’s ‘Dog the Bounty Hunter’ series pending an investigation into his racist tirade.

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