A&E Networks announced Friday that it would resume filming its controversial hit show Duck Dynasty with Phil Robertson next spring, reversing a decision last week to suspend the star for making comments about homosexuality and African Americans, Fox News reports.
The family, in an exclusive statement to Fox News, said it was "excited to keep making a quality TV show for our dedicated fans, who have showed us wonderful support. We will continue to represent our faith and values in the most positive way through 'Duck Dynasty' and our many projects that we are currently working on. The outpouring of support and prayer has encouraged and emboldened us greatly."
The network indefinitely suspended Robertson, the family’s 67-year-old patriarch, on Dec. 18 for remarks he made during an interview with GQ Magazine. While earning praise from gay and civil rights organizations, the suspension triggered objections from conservative fans, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
And until Friday, the show’s future had been uncertain, since the family had said it could not imagine moving forward without Robertson. The fifth season is scheduled to start Jan. 15
A&E officials said in a statement released Friday that the family's public apology played a major role in their decision.
“While Phil's comments made in the (GQ) interview reflect his personal views based on his own beliefs, and his own personal journey, he and his family have publicly stated they regret the ‘coarse language’ he used and the misinterpretation of his core beliefs based only on the article,” the statement reads, according to Fox News. “He also made it clear he would ‘never incite or encourage hate.’ "
Further, network officials said in the statement, “Duck Dynasty is not a show about one man's views. It resonates with a large audience because it is a show about family, a family that America has come to love. As you might have seen in many episodes, they come together to reflect and pray for unity, tolerance and forgiveness. These are three values that we at A&E Networks also feel strongly about.
“So after discussions with the Robertson family, as well as consulting with numerous advocacy groups, A&E has decided to resume filming Duck Dynasty later this spring with the entire Robertson family.”
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Discrimination released a statement Friday night to Fox News, saying that communication between Robertson and the black and gay communities was a critical next step.
"Phil Robertson should look African-American and gay people in the eyes and hear about the hurtful impact of praising Jim Crow laws and comparing gay people to terrorists," the statement said. "If dialog with Phil is not part of next steps, then A&E has chosen profits over African-American and gay people—especially its employees and viewers."
The show is the top-rated reality program on cable, according to the Hollywood Reporter, with an average 13.4 million viewers and a marketing franchise in such outlets as Wal-Mart, Sears and Cracker Barrel restaurants—which briefly removed Dynasty-related items after Robertson’s suspension.
Read more at Fox News.