BIRMINGHAM, Ala., April 23 -- Gay rights advocates have arranged for a satellite downlink to beam the ABC program 'Ellen' into Birmingham, Ala., April 30, bypassing the local network affiliate which refuses to air the show. WBMA-TV General Manager Jerry Heilman labeled as 'inappropriate for family viewing' the episode in which Ellen DeGeneres' character (Ellen Morgan) admits she is gay and plans to black out the program.
Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation Entertainment Media Director Chastity Bono criticizes the action, saying viewers should decide for themselves what they wish to see. No other affiliate has said it will black out the program. Birmingham Pride Alabama and GLAAD will host a 'Welcome Out 'Ellen' Party' at the Boutwell Auditorium in Birmingham that night, complete with a feed of the banned program. BPA Vice President Kevin Snow, who expects approximately 3,800 people to attend the party, says there was no problem renting the auditorium for the event. Snow adds, 'In fact, there's widespread support for this. It may be the biggest event of its kind ever in the state.' Organizers say the party will allow Birmingham residents the chance to participate in 'television history in the making.' No other television lead character is openly gay. Ironically, the ABC News program '20/20,' during which star Ellen DeGeneres discusses her own 'coming out,' will be broadcast on WBMA. Snow says, 'Apparently that's OK, but it's not the same thing for Ellen's fictional character.' ---
Copyright 1997 by United Press International. All rights reserved. ---