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

  • Bob GreenblattCreating Great Characters: Dick Wolf

    Bob Greenblatt on WarnerMedia Streaming Strategy: 'The Assets are Undeniable'

    CANNES — AT&T is ready for battle in the streaming wars. The new parent company of HBO and Warner Bros. has moved quickly to respond to consumer demand by marshaling its forces behind the launch next spring of HBO Max, WarnerMedia Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt told a crowd of international TV and digital executives here [...]

  • Roberto Gomez Bolanos Mexican actor Roberto

    Chespirito Media Universe in Development from Grupo Chespirito, Thr3 Media Group

    Mexican production companies Grupo Chespirito and Thr3 Media Group have come to terms on a deal to co-produce multi-media content and create the Chespirito Media Universe based on the characters and world of Mexico and Latin America’s most iconic TV creator, director, producer and actor, Chespirito. Thr3 Media Group was launched in January 2018 by [...]

  • Bastian-and-Fabienne_2btube-Office-1

    2btube Adds Lacoproductora to Facebook, YouTube Originals Alliances

    CANNES —  Fast-driving from a huge digital media publishing base into the creation and production of premium content for global platforms and beyond, top Spanish-language digital native media group 2btube has clinched a wide-ranging production partnership with José Miguel Contreras’ Madrid-based Lacoproductora. The deal comes fast on the heels of 2btube’s production alliance with Facebook [...]


    Spain's Fasten Films Nabs Remake Rights to Argentine Series 'The Cleaning Lady' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Barcelona-based company Fasten Films has optioned Spanish and Portuguese adaptation rights to Argentine suspense series “La chica que limpia” (“The Cleaning Lady”). The deal was negotiated with Argentine distributors RM Vistar and GlowStar, who jointly handle the format’s international sales. A Mexican remake of the series is being produced by Turner Latin America, alongside BTF [...]

  • Motiv: Max ConzeFoto: © ProSiebenSat.1/Martin SaumweberDieses

    ProSiebenSat.1 Boss Max Conze Unfazed By the Invasion of the Digital Streaming Giants

    Max Conze, CEO of German broadcast company ProSiebenSat.1 since June last year, appeared relatively relaxed about the prospect of the coming invasion of new subscription streaming players like Disney Plus into his territory when speaking to journalists at TV market and conference Mipcom in Cannes Tuesday. “Disney will not lock away all their content,” he [...]

  • Irmaos Freitas

    Amazon Prime Video takes Turner’s ‘Freitas Brothers’

    CANNES — In yet another – and significant – Latin America distribution deal for the now highly active OTT giant, Amazon Prime Video has acquired Brazilian and pan-Spanish-speaking Latin American SVOD rights to Turner Latin America’s highly anticipated “Freitas Brothers.” The announcement was made late Tuesday by Turner Latin America at Cannes Mipcom TV and [...]

  • Tulsi Gabbard, Tom Steyer, Cory Booker,

    Nonsense Ellen DeGeneres Question Derails an Otherwise Substantive Democratic Debate (Column)

    The fourth Democratic debate was dangerously close to being substantive. For almost three (3!) hours, the twelve (12!) candidates onstage tackled questions on foreign policy, reproductive rights, health care, gun control, big tech, and the opioid crisis. While the other debates — and indeed, the entire 2016 presidential campaign — have been marked by meme-able [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content