Phil Vischer, at his blog, not only denies it, but gives us the e-mail sent to him by NBC that proves his point. Here's his post, in its entirety, but I recommend you stop by his blog and see the rest, too. (He has a long series of posts on what exactly happened to Big Idea.)
This item appeared today on the trade journal Broadcasting & Cable's website. It is very interesting.NBC says it has made no final decision on what will or won't be in its broadcast of a Madonna concert during the November sweeps.
The Parents Television Council and the American Family Association are making noise about NBC's planned broadcast of a London stop on her "Confessions" tour. PTC wants NBC to explain its "decision to air bigoted, anti-Christian Madonna concert "(though it has not asked individual members to write NBC, as initially reported here).
Their beef is with Madonna's appearance during the concert hanging on a cross wearing a crown of thorns, saying that NBC is "demeaning and degrading Christianity."
"NBC is awaiting delivery of the special and, once we see it in its entirety, we will make a final decision," said NBC in a statement.
PTC also claimed the network had altered its Saturday morning series, Veggie Tales, of "God and the Bible," suggesting some pattern of dissing Christianity.
NBC counters that it edited the shows for time. They are 30-minute home videos that must fit in 22 minutes or so of airtime. It did clip off the beginning and ending tags, which are Bible verses, but they were also arguably the easiest cut to make. The network says the message of the shows remains intact
"Veggie Tales was originally created for home video and, in most cases, each episode is over 30 minutes long," the network said in a statement. "As it appears on Qubo [NBC's Saturday morning Block, which is a co-venture with four other kids TV producers including Veggie Tales], Veggie Tales has been edited down for broadcast without losing any of its core messages about positive values."
Regarding Madonna, NBC had already stated at least twice that they found her performance "acceptable" and would air it as is. Now, apparently, they're reconsidering that position.
More interesting, though, is what they say about VeggieTales. NBC told Broadcasting & Cable that VeggieTales was "edited for time" not for content. In other words, they're saying the edits made were only to bring the shows down to TV length, not to decrease Christian content.
Well, that's kinda funny, because as the guy required to do all the editing, I know that statement is false. We sent them our first episode for TV, which was already edited to EXACTLY the right length, and they rejected it because, at the end, Bob the Tomato said, "Remember kids, God made you special and he loves you very much." They demanded we remove that line. The show wasn't too long, it was too Christian.
Then we sent them the next episode, which contained a slightly shortened version of Minnesota Cuke. Again, the episode, as we delivered it, was perfectly timed for television. What did we get back from NBC? An email with a list of lines that needed to be removed from the show, each of them containing either the word "God" or "Bible." The show wasn't too long, it was too Christian.
In fact, would you like to see that list? Here it is, in an email from NBC on August 24th…
As discussed, there are a few edit notes for Episode # 2 MINNESOTA CUKE
We list the time-code with the specific dialogue lines to be deleted:*
11:50-11:52 - "Calm down. The Bible says we should love our enemies." (on phone)
16:53-17:06 And the best part is God gives us strength too. He gives us an even greater power than Samson's, the power to love our enemy and even be kind to them." (on phone)
18:36 - "Because God gives us the power to love everybody, even our enemy." (on phone)All of the lines are from MARTIN's voice-over during phone conversations
Greatly appreciate your attention to Program Standards notes & concerns. As soon as the edits have been addressed, we will need to re-screen for broadcast approval.
This was the list of offensive lines we needed to removed before Minnesota Cuke could be aired on NBC. The show was already cut down to the proper length, so timing had nothing to do with it. These lines were unacceptably Christian.
I'm not trying to cause trouble for NBC, but whoever is making these statements to the press is either misinformed, or is actively misrepresenting what has happened. They certainly have the right to decide what is or isn't appropriate for their own network, but if they are going to reject programming because they feel it is "too Christian," they should at least own up to it.
We're making the edits because NBC is requiring us to do so. Regardless of what they are now saying to the press.
Crazy stuff, man.
Yeah, Phil, crazy.
Funny how the spiritual attacks are coming faster and harder, and everyone can see them easily now.
UPDATE: Phil has an update on the press release from NBC here. And don't worry if you don't see the Veggies this weekend.