A proposed television variety series starring Anita Bryant has been called off because of "extensive national publicity" arising from her campaign against a homosexual rights ordinance here, the singer claimed yesterday.
Bryant said she was notified of the cancellation in a telegram from Barry Drucker, president of Tele-Tactics, a New York television production firm. "We sincerely regret that the extensive national publicity arising from the controversial political activities you have been engaged in Dade County prohibit us from utilizing your services . . . " the telegram said.
Bryant, 37, has been the leader in a campaign against a recently passed county ordinance banning discrimination against homosexuals in such areas as employment, housing, labor unions and private education. She contends that the law, by allowing homosexuals to "come out" into the open will encourage them to "recruit" from the youth of the area.
She is president of a newly formed group called Save Our Children Inc., which is gathering signatures for a petition to repeal the law, which was passed on Jan. 18. The petition, which will be presented to the commission Tuesday, may force either repeal of the law or a referendum.
Bryant said the cancellation of the TV show "destroys a dream that I have had since I was a child - a dream to have a television series of my own . . .
"The blacklisting of Anita Bryant has begun," she said.
Bob Green, the singer's husband and business manager, said the pilot for the series, to be sponsored by Singer Sewing Machines, was to have been filmed next week. "Drucker told Anita last week he was going to put a contract in the mail to her. We already had reservations to fly to New York Monday," he said.
Singer Co. Vice President Edward Treborrow told The Miami Herald yesterday, "We want this to be a pleasant show. We'd like to have as little difficulty as possible in any direction."
Last week, Green said, Singer had sent a top-of-the-line electronic sewing machine to Bryant. Treborrow told The Herald that Singer would not ask for return of the machine, valued at $1,300, even though plans for the Bryant TV show had been dropped.
Bryant, however, said today she would return the machine anyway.
Green alled the cancellation "scary" and said, "If they can intimidate a company like Singer, they can intimidate anybody - congressmen, police, anyone."
"What concerns me is that by caving in to the small but vocal (number of) homosexual activists, those who sponsor American television and other forms of entertainment will give the impression that this sick segment of society represents society on a much broader basis than it does in reality," Bryant said.
Both Bryant and Green vowed to continue their campaign against the "gay rights" ordiance. "The more they sock it to us, the more they're going to get it back double," he vowed.
Since Bryant appeared before the Dade County Commission last month to testify against the proposed ordinance, she has been the target of the gay organizations here. In flyers and by word of mouth, gays have been urged to write to Florida Citrus Commission which sponsors Anita Bryant's orange juice commercial and to First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Miami, which has used Bryant in TV advertising for five years.
First Federal has postponed filiming of new television commercials with Bryant, but says it has done so not because of the controversy but because it is cuttently considerably above its corporate savings goal. "We still have the contract with her," a bank spokesman said.
Robert Kunst, once a leader of the New Party and now the spokesman for the gay community here, calls her allegations that homosexuals want to recruit the young "absurd. It's an absolutely phony issue. She is a national symbol of repression" to homosexuals, he said.
Kunst denies he is urging a boycott of Bryant or her products. But TV trnscripts show he has publicly urged the citrus industry to take her commecials off the air. A flyer put out by his organization, the Dade County Coalition for the Humanistic Rights of Gays, urges says to write to her TV sponsors, the Florida Citrus Commission and First Federal.
Green said plans for the television series had advanced to the point that Bryant had talked to First Lady Rosalynn Carter about making an appearance on her show, but that nothing had been settled.
Both Bryant and Green are active southern Baptists. She has written several books with religious themes.
The couple say they have received more than 3,000 letters over the past weekend in support of their campaign, most resulting from publication last week of an Associated Press article about her campaign.