Phil Robertson will return to A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” without missing a beat. The head of the reality-TV clan was suspended by the network Dec. 18, during the show’s hiatus. On Friday, the network and the Robertson family announced that the patriarch will return, and his suspension — during a hiatus from filming —will not have an effect on his appearances in the upcoming fifth season.
Entertainment Weekly reports that on Jan. 15, A&E will begin airing new episodes from the fourth season that include scenes featuring the 67-year-old Robertson.
The “Dynasty” patriarch was suspended for comments in GQ magazine, in which he called homosexuality a sin and likened it to “bestiality.” He also said of African-Americans in the South, “Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”
As part of its announcement Friday, A&E Networks said in a statement that it would launch a national public service campaign “promoting unity, tolerance and acceptance among all people, a message that supports our core values as a company, and the values found in ‘Duck Dynasty.’ ”
In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, A&E also said:
“While Phil’s comments made in the 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. He also made it clear he would ‘never incite or encourage hate.’ We at A&E Networks expressed our disappointment with his statements in the article and reiterate that they are not views we hold.
“But ‘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.”
After the suspension, Mr. Robertson’s friends and family offered support and there was talk the family would leave the show, which this season has averaged more than 14 viewers, including DVR playback, The Huffington Post said. The family released a statement on the Duck Commander website saying, “We are disappointed that Phil has been placed on hiatus for expressing his faith.”
A&E’s statement said that discussions with the Robertson family and “numerous advocacy groups” led to the decision to allow Phil Robertson to film this spring with his family.
This story was compiled from local and Web dispatches.