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PBS chief says Fred Willard was fired to avoid 'a distraction'

July 21, 2012|By Joy Press
  • Fred Willard was removed from the new PBS show Market Warriors after his indecency arrest in Los Angeles last week.
Fred Willard was removed from the new PBS show Market Warriors after his… (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times )

At the Television Critics Assn. press tour in Pasadena on Saturday, PBS President Paula Kerger addressed the decision to fire Fred Willard from the new show “Market Warriors” after his indecency arrest in Los Angeles last week.

“We realized we needed to work fast because we are taping now,” she said, noting that PBS didn’t want Willard to “become a distraction.”

“We talked to [Willard], and decided what we would do was bring in Mark Wahlberg,” host of “Antiques Roadshow,” the long-running PBS series for which “Market Warriors” was intended as a kind of companion. 

The new series will premiere on Monday with Wahlberg’s voice in the place of Willard's.

In the same session, Kerger celebrated the great success of “Downton Abbey” and announced a new Ken Burns series, “The Roosevelts,” which will air in 2014.  

But she struck a more somber note as she noted that public television's federal funding is again under attack by lawmakers, endangering the future of some stations, which get half or more of their  money from federal funds. Some smaller stations “will go dark and that’s what at risk," she warned.

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