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Steamed Over `VeggieTales' Cuts

A watchdog group slams NBC for editing out some references to God in the children's series.

September 22, 2006|Lorenza Munoz | Times Staff Writer

The Parents Television Council, an entertainment watchdog group, has a beef with NBC but not about televising curse words. It's about the word "God."

The council wants to know why the network edited out some references to God from "VeggieTales," a popular children's series that airs on NBC on Saturday mornings. The conservative group accuses the network of having a double standard when it comes to Christianity.

"NBC has stepped in doodoo again," said Parents Television Council President L. Brent Bozell. "Why in the world take out the very essence of what made the 'Veggie' shows successful? It is not a smash hit in spite of its message. It is a hit because of its message."

"VeggieTales" is an animated home video series that uses biblical stories as reference points to teach children about morality and values. It has sold more than 50 million DVDs since its launch in 1993, according to Big Idea Inc., producers of the series.

The show began airing on NBC two weeks ago.

In a statement, NBC said the editing was done to keep the shows under a certain time limit. " 'VeggieTales' was originally created for home entertainment and in most cases each episode is 30 minutes long," according to the statement. " 'VeggieTales' has been edited down for broadcast without losing any of its core messages about positive values."

But Phil Vischer, creator of the show, maintains that the network received five to six episodes, all of which were 23 minutes, the length requested by the network.

Vischer said the network requested editing out specific references to God such as "God made you special" and "He loves you very much."

"Talking about a Bible story or God as a historical thing is OK, but implying that it could affect your life in some way is apparently not OK," Vischer said. "It's a little funky."

The Parents Television Council and American Family Assn., an advocacy group, have asked NBC to cut a crucifixion scene from a Madonna concert tour that the network plans to air. NBC is in discussions with the singer's representatives about cutting the scene, said people close to the network.

NBC declined to comment.

lorenza.munoz@latimes.com

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