I'm updating this post because NBC has now issued a new statement about VeggieTales, refining their earlier statement that cuts were only made for timing, not content. They now acknowledge the cuts they requested and explain that they don't want to air programming that offends or excludes any individual religious group. This is why, one would assume, they are also rethinking the Madonna-on-a-cross thing. So they're being clear now, which is good. Whether or not you agree with their standards or the other shows they air is really a separate issue. They obviously have the right to set their own standards and apply them however they choose. I just wanted to make sure everyone was being upfront about the situation, because, well, I like it when we're all being upfront.
It has been very interesting to watch this situation unfold, as what might have appeared to be a minor issue about a kids show failing to meet network standards has now been picked up by the New York Times, the LA Times, CNN, the Associated Press, and countless blogs and opinion pieces. The New York Times headline implied I was 'steamed' about the incident, which isn't the case. (The body of the story makes it clear that the Parent Television Council is the irate party.) For the record one more time, I'm not upset that NBC wants their kids programming to be free from religious statements. That is perfectly within their right. I got a little upset when they issued a statement that appeared to deny requiring these cuts, but now that they've retracted that statement, I'm fine with them. As I've mentioned to several reporters, though, I wish I had known the extent of the required cuts before agreeing to reformat the shows, because I probably would have declined the invitation to participate. While some VeggieTales shows work fine without overt references to God or the Bible (like Snoodle's Tale, which presents God allegorically, or Sheerluck Holmes, which simply teaches the Golden Rule), most of the shows I wrote in the pre-bankruptcy days don't really teach lessons about values at all, but rather about God. And those shows don't hold up very well if you try to take God out. So I probably would have declined to participate simply because there aren't enough veggie shows that could be made acceptable to NBC without signifanctly compromising their message.
So how will it all work out? I'm not sure, frankly. Big Idea is trying to edit the old shows to NBC's standards down in Nashville, while those of us at Jellyfish focus on the new material at Bob's house. (Which, I will say again, has been a lot of fun.)
Stay tuned to see what happens next. And watch the shows on NBC, both to see the goofy new stuff we're doing at Bob's house, and to see how the old shows hold up with whatever edits Big Idea is having to do, and to vote loudly that you really like it when a major network skirts 'dangerously close' to real biblical truth.
See you next Saturday at 10am…