Zell to CBS: 'Call off your Hillbilly Hunt' - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Zell to CBS: 'Call off your Hillbilly Hunt'

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February 25, 2003

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Zell Miller today called for CBS to halt its plans to create a new reality show, "The Real Beverly Hillbillies," saying the proposed show would serve only to humiliate poor rural Americans.

Miller delivered a speech on the floor of the Senate in which he accused CBS, its parent company Viacom, and its CEO Les Moonves of seeking to perpetuate the denigrating stereotype of mountaineers and poor rural folks. CBS is now combing the hills of Appalachia in search of a rural family to plunk down in a Beverly Hills mansion for a year for the series.

"What CBS and CEO Moonves propose to do with this Cracker Comedy is bigotry pure and simple. Bigotry for big bucks. They will deny it. They will say it is just harmless humor. But they know better," Miller said.

"CBS, Viacom, Mr. Moonves: I plead with you to call off your hillbilly hunt. Make your big bucks some other way. Appeal to the best in America, not the worst. Give bigotry no sanction."

Miller, who was born and still lives in the north Georgia mountain town of Young Harris, has fought for decades against the stereotype of mountaineers as ignorant, inbred, moonshine-drinking, backwards people. He persuaded the editors of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to drop the "Snuffy Smith" comic strip in 1989.

"The only minority left in this country that you can make fun of, demean, humiliate, put down and hardly anyone will speak up in their defense are hillbillies in particular and poor rural people in general. You can ridicule them with impunity," Miller said.

"Can you imagine this kind of program being suggested that would disrespect an African-American family or denigrate a Latino family? Years ago, the program Amos and Andy was removed from television - as it should have been - because it was in poor taste and made fun of a minority."

The full text of Miller's statement is on his web site

posted at 11:50AM bny dave.miller@walb.com