A&E Networks Friday lifted its suspension of Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson and will begin filming new episodes of the popular reality series featuring Robertson later this spring.
The network suspended Robertson Dec. 17 after Robertson -- arguably the show’s most famous character— made controversial remarks about gays in GQ magazine. The comments were immediately denounced by pro-gay groups such as GLAAD, but in the days following the suspension Robertson received a groundswell of supporters from conservative political and media groups.
In reinstating Robertson, A&E Networks in a statement said it switched gears after discussions with the Robertson family as well as with numerous advocacy groups about the comments. While A&E reiterated that it was “disappointed" with Robertson’s comments, it said the series “is not a show about one man's views.”
The programmer added that Duck Dynasty “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.”
The hit show, which averaged more than 10 million viewers for it’s recently completed fourth season — the most for any reality-based cable series — is scheduled to return Jan. 15.