‘Hitler’ surrender for Gernon

Alliance minis chief ankles after press spin

Veteran Alliance Atlantis exec VP of movies and minis Ed Gernon is ankling the company.

Reps for Alliance Atlantis did not return calls late Wednesday, but several sources close to the situation said the company asked Gernon to leave Sunday night in the wake of a controversy related to the studio’s upcoming CBS mini about Hitler.

Last week, the New York Post’s Page Six column ran an item previewing an April 12 TV Guide article about “Hitler: The Rise of Evil,” on which Gernon is an exec producer. Gernon told TV Guide that fear was “absolutely” behind the German public’s acceptance of Hitler’s policies; he also stated that the U.S. public was also supporting President Bush’s Iraq policy “because of the fear of what will happen if they don’t.”

Nowhere, however, is Gernon quoted as linking Bush to Hitler or offering any comparisons between the men or their policies. Indeed, the TV Guide article was fairly straightforward and presented Gernon’s views in an almost philosophical context.

But Page Six took an edgier approach to Gernon’s quotes, characterizing his comments to mean that — in the words of Page Six, not Gernon — “It’s a good idea to look at the Bush White House through the prism of the Germany’s genocidal psychopath.”

Page Six’s item was also labeled “The Rise of Lunacy at CBS” and stated that CBS topper Leslie Moonves “disavows” Gernon’s comments.

Before the TV Guide article was even published, however, sources close to Gernon said the exec was let go by Alliance Atlantis topper Peter Sussman.

CBS, which is a major buyer of Alliance Atlantis projects, is understood to have made its displeasure with Gernon’s comments known, and felt they did not reflect the content of the mini. Net is said to be supportive of the studio’s decision.

Those who know Gernon said the exec was not trying to compare Bush to Hitler but simply offering his beliefs on how public leaders are able to govern.

Eye’s “Hitler” mini has been the subject of controversy from almost the moment news of its development broke (Daily Variety, Jan. 22, 2002.) Original source material was thrown out, and a new writer was brought on board to pen a new script.

Gernon, who had a substantial amount of time left on his deal with Alliance Atlantis, oversaw all longform programming for the Canadian company. During his tenure, studio worked on a slew of high-profile, Emmy-nominated projects, including the Eye’s “Joan of Arc” and ABC’s Craig Zadan/Neil Meron-produced Judy Garland mini for ABC.

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