NEW YORK, Dec. 21 (UPI) -- The U.S. cable channel A&E plans to include "Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson in the show when new episodes begin airing next month, Entertainment Weekly said.
A&E suspended Robertson indefinitely Wednesday after publication of an interview with GQ in which he said the line between right and wrong has become "blurred" -- starting with "homosexual behavior."
The remarks touched off criticism by gay-rights advocates, who Robertson's supports accuse of suppressing his free speech. Robertson, who told GQ "a vagina -- as a man -- would be more desirable than a man's anus," said in his defense he was simply expressing his Christian beliefs.
Citing a source it identified only as someone close to the show, Entertainment Weekly said Saturday new episodes set to begin airing Jan. 15 will feature Robertson, and A&E is hoping the controversy will die down.
"There's no negotiation to have; we're doing the show," the report quoted the insider as saying. "We'll figure out a solution."
Nearly 30 separate petitions to reinstate Robertson have been started on Change.org, a website that facilitates petition-gathering. A petition on the website IStandWithPhil.com had gathered more than 174,000 signatures by late Saturday.
Citing a source it identified only as an A&E insider, TMZ said Saturday the cable channel suspended Robertson to mollify gay and lesbian employees.
"He just took it too far with GQ ... especially with the coarse language," the TMZ source said.
The source said gay staff members had called on Chief Executive Officer Nancy Dubuc to boot Robertson off the popular reality show permanently. The source said Dubuc has received death threats for her decision to suspend Robertson indefinitely from filming new episodes of A&E's biggest hit.