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NBC pulls its 'Book of Daniel'

The network cites ratings, not furor, as it drops series about an offbeat minister.

January 26, 2006|Matea Gold | Times Staff Writer

New York — AFTER airing just four episodes, NBC has yanked "The Book of Daniel" from its Friday time slot, effectively canceling the controversial drama.

The show, in which Aidan Quinn played an Episcopalian minister who sees and converses with Jesus, drew condemnation from conservative Christians, who objected to the portrayal of Rev. Daniel Webster as a priest who, among other things, battles an addiction to painkillers.

The Tupelo, Miss.-based American Family Assn. complained that the depiction of Webster and his family -- including a gay son, a daughter caught selling marijuana and a lesbian sister-in-law -- was disrespectful of Christians. The organization launched a phone and e-mail campaign to persuade NBC affiliates not to air the program, ultimately convincing about half a dozen stations to keep it off the airwaves. Several advertisers backed away from the show as well.

But NBC officials suggested that the fate of "The Book of Daniel" simply came down to a matter of viewership.

"It's been tough sledding on the advertising front, and it's something that we anticipated going in and would be willing to weather if the audience in fact embraced the show," Kevin Reilly, president of NBC Entertainment, told television critics earlier this week.

Instead of running the rest of the eight-episode limited season that the network ordered, NBC is replacing "The Book of Daniel" with a repeat of "Law & Order" this Friday. Next week, the time slot will be occupied by a two-hour "Dateline."

"The Book of Daniel" is not the only highly touted midseason replacement to get dropped after a brief run. ABC's highly promoted sitcom "Emily's Reasons Why Not," starring Heather Graham, was canceled after just one airing.

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