As A&E continued to air a non-stop Duck Dynasty marathon throughout the holiday week, many began to speculate that the cable series had merely blown the indefinite suspension of family patriarch Phil Robertson out of proportion to get more eyes on these repeats, in light of controversial remarks the Robertson clan leader made about homosexuality, bestiality, race and religion in an issue of GQ magazine. After a hailstorm of press both good and bad, and a petition to bring the man back to the network that saw over 250,000 signatures, A&E has pulled Phil's suspension, and has announced that the series will continue shooting this spring.
Duck Dynasty Season 5 will find the entire family returning for more new episodes. The controversy came while the show was in the middle of hiatus, and shooting was not supposed to resume until this spring anyway, so no delays have been caused by this uproar. The decision to continue with the show, full family intact, came "after discussions with the Robertson family, as well as consulting with numerous advocacy groups."
Here is the statement issued by A&E:
"As a global media content company, A+E Networks' core values are centered around creativity, inclusion and mutual respect. We believe it is a privilege for our brands to be invited into people's home and we operate with a strong sense of integrity and deep commitment to these principals.
That is why we reacted so quickly and strongly to a recent interview with Phil Robertson. While Phil's comments made in the interview reflect his personal views based on his own beliefs, and his own personal journey, he and his family have publicly stated they regret the "coarse language" he used and the mis-interpretation of his core beliefs based only on the article. He also made it clear he would "never incite or encourage hate." We at A+E Networks expressed our disappointment with his statements in the article, and reiterate that they are not views we hold.
But Duck Dynasty is not a show about one man's views. It 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.
So after discussions with the Robertson family, as well as consulting with numerous advocacy groups, A&E has decided to resume filming Duck Dynasty later this spring with the entire Robertson family.
We will also use this moment to launch a national public service campaign (PSA) promoting unity, tolerance and acceptance among all people, a message that supports our core values as a company, and the values found in Duck Dynasty. These PSAs will air across our entire portfolio."
No premiere date has been set for Duck Dynasty.