You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

A&E Changes ‘Generation KKK’ Title, Partners With Color of Change

Looking to emphasize that its new project exploring a resurgence in the Ku Klux Klan is a serious-minded documentary and not an entertainment reality show, A&E has changed the title of “Generation KKK” to “Escaping the KKK: A Documentary Series Exposing Hate in America.”

The cable channel also has sealed a new partnership with civil-rights group Color of Change. The organization will produce segments featuring civil-rights leaders to help provide context to the documentary. Those pieces will air between segments of “Escaping the KKK.” A&E will also produce a post-show town-hall special on ending hate in America.

Set to premiere Jan. 10, “Escaping the KKK: A Documentary Series Exposing Hate in America” is an eight-part documentary that looks at the lives of several families involved with the KKK, and efforts to help some members of those families extricate themselves from the hate group. It also examines the way that the Klan encourages the indoctrination and recruitment of children.

“This what happens behind the scenes and how hate groups evolve and continue,” Rob Sharenow, executive vice president and general manager of A&E, told Variety. “That was really the focus of the entire series.”

That message, however, became muddled shortly after A&E announced the series on Sunday. Despite endorsements from civil rights leaders associated with the NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League, and Black Lives Matter, criticism of the series, driven largely by people who had not seen it, mounted online. Actors Wendell Pierce and Ellen Pompeo criticized A&E on Twitter, with Pierce calling for a boycott of the network. Pompeo urged A&E to change its marketing for the show after the network responded to her tweets to assure her that the series is a documentary. Pierce has insisted that A&E provide evidence that the subjects of the documentary were not paid, as the subjects of an entertainment reality program would be. A&E insists that no payment was made to anyone featured in the series.

ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt told Variety that the series is “a laudable effort to understand and expose the Ku Klux Klan from the inside out.” The ADL is working with the network to promote the series and produce educational materials related to it.

“We believe that A&E’s audience is educated and sophisticated enough to understand what they are watching,” Greenblatt said. “The individuals involved in these racist groups are not heroes, they are haters.”

Many would-be viewers, however, appear to believe that a show about the KKK from the network behind reality series such as “Duck Dynasty” is a unlikely to be credible documentary. Thursday morning, “A&E’s KKK” was one of the top trends on Twitter. Most tweets criticized the project. “Since they are doing TV shows about terrorist groups like A&E’s KKK, they might as well do ‘Real Housewives of Al Qaeda'” author and filmmaker Tariq Nasheed tweeted.

But Sharenow points to the network’s long history of serious documentary programming and recent socially conscious efforts such as the concert special “Shining a Light: A Concert for Progress on Race in America.”

“This is not a reality show starring the KKK,” Sharenow said. “This is a documentary series and that’s been the approach from the beginning. I think there’s been a horrible misperception about what it is and what we set out to do. This is a pure documentary that looks at a previously hidden part of the world.”

In a statement, Color of Change executive director Rashad Robinson said, “After reviewing the promotions and episodes and participating in substantive conversations with A&E executives, we are pleased to see that the network is taking seriously concerns that the show — newly  titled ‘Escaping the KKK: A Documentary Series Exposing Hate in America’ — required important additional components — such as specific in-show educational context and content and a post-show town hall as we both want to work together to ensure that it did not normalize and humanize racism and white  supremacy.”

Watch the first look trailer below:

More TV

  • Prince Albert II of Monaco (C),

    Jessica Alba, Gabrielle Union's 'L.A.’s Finest' Opens Monte Carlo TV Festival

    Prince Albert II of Monaco opened the 59th Monte Carlo Television Festival on Friday at a glittering ceremony at the principality’s Grimaldi Forum attended by Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba. The Hollywood actresses presented the French premiere of their action cop series “L.A.’s Finest,” which has just been renewed for a second season. “You typically [...]

  • Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba'L.A.'s Finest'

    Jessica Alba, Gabrielle Union Speak About Horrific 'L.A.’s Finest' On-Set Accident

    Actresses Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba spoke about how the horrific accident on the set of their action cop series “L.A.’s Finest” affected them and the crew at the 59th Monte Carlo Television Festival Saturday. They also paid tribute to the main victim of the incident, executive producer/co-showrunner Brandon Sonnier, whose leg was amputated below [...]

  • Emmys: How a Social Media Campaign

    How a Social Media Campaign to Game the Emmys Led to This Week's 'Block Voting' Scandal

    The Television Academy’s “block voting” controversy has quickly become the talk of Emmy season — and that appears to have been the org’s point. According to multiple insiders, the number of people disqualified from voting in this year’s competition is believed to be small, only around three members (out of nearly 25,000 members overall). But [...]

  • No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No

    TV News Roundup: Hulu Drops Trailer for 'Veronica Mars' Revival (Watch)

    In today’s roundup, Hulu dropped the official trailer for the “Veronica Mars” revival and HBO revealed more cast members for “Lovecraft Country.” FIRST LOOKS Hulu has dropped the official trailer for its revival of “Veronica Mars,” set to premiere on July 26. The series will bring back most of the original cast, including Kristen Bell, Jason [...]

  • Dan Stevens

    'Legion' Star Dan Stevens Says His Character Would Fight Thanos, 'Wreak Havoc' in MCU

    Dan Stevens said his powerful, telepathic mutant Legion would do some serious damage if he ever crossed over from the eponymous FX series into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “Legion would wreak havoc. He’d probably take on Thanos, let’s see that,” he told Variety on the red carpet at the premiere of the trippy, mind-bending superhero series [...]

  • Viacom CEO Bob Bakish

    Bob Bakish Talks Pluto TV, Netflix and CBS-Viacom Merger Rumors

    Viacom CEO Bob Bakish knows that a lot of his peers are in the original content space in streaming, but he believes the company’s ad-supported free service Pluto TV is better off relying on Viacom’s library of content. “We can debate a lot of things about the future, but in the near term, the opportunity [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content