The ongoing protests across the nation are changing what and who we’ll see on TV — although most of the changes are coming as a result of things that happened before George Floyd died under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer.
Floyd’s death and subsequent rallies and protests have prompted producers and programmers to pay attention, apparently, to things they’d been ignoring — in some cases, for decades.
“COPS” • The Paramount Network has axed this alleged reality show, bringing it to an end after 31 years — 24 on Fox; seven on Spike-rebranded-Paramount.
Studies have shown — and even casual viewers could see — that the show featured a disproportionate number of black and Hispanic men arrested mostly by white cops. I don’t know how it wasn’t canceled after a crew member was killed by a bullet fired by an Omaha police officer during a robbery in 2014.
There have been questions for decades about whether cops upped the action and used more force than necessary to create content for “COPS.” This show should have disappeared years ago.
“Live P.D.” • A&E dumped this series, a variation on “COPS” that had all the same problems.
In 2019, a “Live P.D.” crew was with Texas police officers when they chased a man who had failed to dim his headlights for oncoming traffic. The man, Javier Ambler, ended up dead, and there’s body camera video of him pleading for his life and telling police he couldn’t breathe — 14 months before Floyd was killed.
According to “Live P.D.” producers, their footage of Ambler’s death has been destroyed. Seriously.
“The Flash” • Hartley Sawyer (who played Ralph Dibny/Elongated Man) has been fired after a series of racist, sexist and homophobic tweets he posted from 2012-14 came to light. He joined the cast in 2017.
“Vanderpump Rules” • Stassi Schoeder and Kristen Doute (who are white) were fired for falsely reporting (in 2018) that former castmate Faith Stowers (who is black) committed a crime. Producers and Bravo execs said they were unaware of that incident (and others) until recently.
Max Boyens and Brett Caprioni were both just fired for racist tweets they posted from 2011-13. Producers and Bravo have known about the tweets since at least January.
“Little Britain” • Netflix yanked this sketch comedy show off its lineup for its use of blackface. BTW, the British show was produced from 2003-05.
MTV • The cable network “severed” its relationship with Taylor Selfridge after racist tweets she posted in 2012 resurfaced recently. It pulled “Teen Mom OG At Home: Cory & Taylor’s Baby Special” off its schedule on Tuesday and said it will have nothing more to do with Selfridge.
MTV also “severed ties” with “The Challenge” contestant Dee Nguyen, who, just last weekend, mocked Floyd’s death and belittled the Black Lives Matter movement on Twitter. MTV will, however, air the upcoming season of “The Challenge” in which Nguyen appears.
“Dance Moms” • Abby Lee Miller, who’s been rude, obnoxious and abusive since “Dance Moms” premiered in 2011, posted a black square in support of Black Lives Matter. And that prompted two black moms whose daughters were on the show as well as a producer to come back at Miller with allegations of racist behavior. In response, Lifetime canceled the upcoming “Abby’s Virtual Dance-off” series and cut ties with Miller.
“Law & Order: Organized Crime” • This yet-to-premiere spinoff, which will star former “SVU” star Chris Meloni, fired writer Craig Gore before it even got off the ground. Gore was fired just hours after he posted a picture of himself on Facebook holding a gun and threatening to “light motherf---ers up who try to f--k w/ my property” during protests in Los Angeles.
“Gone With the Wind” • HBO Max has temporarily removed the 1939 film from its lineup this week because of its depictions of slavery and the Confederacy. “We felt that to keep this title up without an explanation and a denouncement of those depictions would be irresponsible,” according to a statement.
But it wasn’t irresponsible when HBO Max launched on May 27? There’s been controversy over “Gone With the Wind” for decades, yet it was featured prominently in promotions for the new streaming service.
The movie will return, we’re told, “with a discussion of its historical context and a denouncement of those very depictions.” Until I can see how that’s handled, I’ll reserve judgment.
Also, Hulu shifted the premieres of “Love, Victor” and “Taste the Nation” from June 19 to June 17 and 18, respectively, to avoid a conflict with Juneteenth — the day that slavery ended in Texas, the last place it still existed in the United States. Juneteenth “deserves to have its own day in the spotlight,” Hulu announced.
That’s a fine sentiment. But, you know, adding programming that is actually somehow related to Juneteenth would mean a whole lot more than shifting a couple of premiere dates.
Correction: Max Boyens was incorrectly identified in an earlier version of this story.