What’s a crazier story than signing on for a KKK-based documentary series that incurs the ire of various celebrities? The answer would be canceling the same series thanks to ethical concerns. This week, we’ve learned that A&E’s upcoming docuseries Escaping the KKK is no longer moving forward at the network. The reason for the swift removal of the project from the network’s slate is honestly rather wild.
Reports indicate that Escaping the KKK is getting cancelled thanks to people involved with the docuseries allegedly paying for access to members of the Klu Klux Klan. Yeah, we kid you not. Instead of just finding people who were willing to agree to appear on Escaping the KKK, Variety is reporting that third-party producers handed out cash payments to some of the individuals who were set to appear on the documentary. The network released a statement noting that the cash payments were nominal, but it was enough for A&E to make the decision to drop the project. Here’s part of the statement:
Cash payments — which we currently understand to be nominal — were made in the field to some participants in order to facilitate access. While we stand behind the intent of the series and the seriousness of the content, these payments are a direct violation of A&E’s policies and practices for a documentary.
It may be the cash payments that pushed Escaping the KKK off the schedule, but there were other concerns about the potential docuseries that have been mentioned in the days past. First and foremost, celebrities like Ellen Pompeo have come out to complain about the content in the series, which would have a group of people hoping to leave the KKK, noting that the documentary could provide a sympathetic look at what is a hate group. Then, there were issues over the title of the series. Originally, the program was expected to be called Generation KKK, but earlier this week A&E even backtracked on that, retitling the documentary. With all of the bad publicity–and now this monetary issue coming to light, it’s easy to see why A&E has decided to cancel the project.
There’s no news currently available regarding whether the team behind the docuseries will attempt to shop it to another network or outlet.
It’s very unusual for a show to get cancelled before it even hits the air—especially an 8-episode docuseries like Escaping the KKK with a limited runtime, but considering the circumstances, A&E’s statement indicates the network simply wanted to distance itself from the project.
Programming on A&E has been rough over the last several years, pretty much since the network made the decision to cancel Longmire in favor of network-owned originals. In the time since, no big scripted originals have really made their mark and even the network’s long-running (and sometimes controversial) series Duck Dynasty is ending. Bates Motel is on the way out the door, too. There have obviously been exceptions, like the Leah Remini special, and we’ll have to wait and see which shows end up making their marks on the cable channel in the future. In the meantime, you can see what is headed to TV at midseason with our premiere schedule.