Unaired Ad Gets Dixie Chicks Flick A Whole Lot of Ink

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By Lisa de Moraes
Saturday, October 28, 2006

NBC and CW networks became unwitting stealth-marketing partners with the Weinstein Co. when they refused to air ads for the film company's upcoming docu-flick about the storm that erupted when the Dixie Chicks' lead singer said in a 2003 concert she was ashamed President Bush was from her home state of Texas.

Or, as we like to say here at The TV Column, when refusing ads for a flick about Censorship and Freedom of Speech, it's always best not to tell the producer in writing that you "cannot accept these spots as they are disparaging to the President" or that your network "does not have appropriate programming in which to schedule this spot" -- because such statements are going to wind up in a news release about network censorship.

It all started earlier this week when Weinstein submitted ads for its new Barbara Kopple documentary "Shut Up & Sing" to the broadcast networks for review by their standards and practices departments.

NBC said it "cannot accept these spots as they are disparaging to President Bush."

CW said it "does not have appropriate programming in which to schedule this spot."

Weinstein said: "Eureka!"

And on Thursday evening, it sent out a news release headlined:

"In an Ironic Twist of Events, NBC and the CW Television Networks Refuse to Air Ads for Documentary Focusing on Freedom of Speech."

"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," bemoaned Weinstein Co. co-chairman Harvey Weinstein.

"The idea that anyone should be penalized for criticizing the president is sad and profoundly un-American," he added.

And, because Weinstein Co. didn't send out the announcement until too late for reporters in some areas of the country to get an "outside expert" on the phone to comment, it even provided them with one, throwing in a quote from "famed litigator David Boies."

(Boies, FYI, is one of the "legal eagles" who crafted the exit agreement from Disney of the former Miramax chiefs -- Bob and Harvey Weinstein, Variety reported back when.)

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