Monday, May 10, 2004

NBC quickly drops rural reality show

By Roger Alford
The Associated Press

No sooner did word get out that NBC was planning a reality show about an Appalachian family in Beverly Hills than the network announced it has scuttled the idea.

The plans had caused an outcry among residents of Appalachia. But an NBC spokeswoman cited "creative reasons," not protests, as the reason the show wasn't pursued.

"I'm glad NBC quickly came to its senses and decided this ill-conceived concept wasn't going to become a part of 'Must See TV,' " said U.S. Rep. Harold Rogers of Kentucky.

After months of outrage over a similar reality series that CBS planned, NBC managed to cast and shoot a similar show without attracting widespread attention.

Ewell Balltrip, former director of the Kentucky Appalachian Commission, said he was stunned that another network moved forward with a show ridiculing mountain people.

"No one would dare propose creating a program focusing on stereotypes about African-Americans, Muslims, or Jews," Rogers said. "Why then would it be OK to bash those of us living in rural America?"

The decision to quash the reality show was seen as a victory in the mountain region.

"I feel good that NBC came to its senses on this," said Dee Davis, director of the Center for Rural Strategies, a Kentucky organization that fights against rural stereotypes. "Networks shouldn't be mocking people just because they come from a rural area. Maybe this is a sign that the tide is turning, and that the broadcasters are taking what rural America says more seriously."

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