Thursday, February 17, 2005


pbs chief pat mitchell has announced that she's stepping down. well, not right away... it's not exactly an immediate resignation: she has simply announced that she won't seek to renew her contract when it expires.

naturally, she says this decision has nothing at all to do with the fact that the whole world now thinks she's full of shit after the fiasco surrounding her decision to pull the episode of postcards from buster that dared to make a passing acknowledgment of the existence of lesbians.

"In fact, had I . . . seen the connection that might be drawn," she said, she would have concluded that "I'd better be sure and say that. It didn't occur to me. . . . I just wanted to be clear that I've got 15 months left on this job and let's make it as constructive as we can."

and if you believe that, you probably believed that her decision to pull the show had nothing to do with the hate mail she received from secretary of education spellings:

Three days before the letter was sent, PBS spokeswoman Lea Sloan was quoted in the Boston Globe saying that Mitchell had reviewed the episode and was satisfied with its contents. "She's seen it; we now feel comfortable," Sloan said.

The day the letter was sent, PBS announced it would not distribute the episode, while insisting Spellings's letter had nothing to do with it.

According to one source with knowledge of the situation, PBS staffers had been prepared to stand behind the episode and were taken by surprise when Mitchell "pulled the rug out from under them."

Sloan told The TV Column yesterday that the reason she told the Globe that Mitchell was satisfied with the content was because Mitchell "was personally comfortable with the episode."

But that weekend, after conversations with a number of PBS stations and "national leadership," Sloan said, Mitchell changed her mind.

The PBS stations, according to Sloan, had asked Mitchell to "please don't put us in the position in which you feed the show to them and then they have to make the call in their communities" whether to air it.

this is the money quote in the article:

Boston station WGBH, which produces "Postcards From Buster," went ahead and aired the episode this month and has offered it to any PBS station that wants it. According to a station representative, about 85 percent of the mail WGBH received on the airing was positive. The rep forwarded one letter to The TV Column, which she said was from a Marine in Iraq thanking the station for providing copies of the episode to other PBS stations. "I don't fight for white, conservative, middle class, heterosexual Americans," the letter said. " . . . I fight so that all can enjoy our inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

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