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Cbs-tv Renews Controversial Show About Bigot Who Spews Racial, Religious Prejudice

“All in the Family,” the comedy series about an American bigot, which has been under fire by the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, was renewed for the 1971-72 season by CBS-TV last week because the network found that it was being received favorably by most stations, critics and viewers. John Cowden, CBS-TV’s vice president for information services, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that 183 of the chain’s 195 station affiliates were carrying the series–an “overwhelming” total that represents “one of the highest” levels of acceptance among CBS-TV shows. In addition, he noted, a “majority” of critics and viewers have indicated approval of the program. “All in the Family,” which premiered in January, centers on Archie bunker, (played by Carroll O’Connor) a blue-collar worker who spews racial and religious prejudices, complete with ethnic epithets, and gets his comeuppance at the end of each episode. In one episode, Archie excoriated a Jewish woman for allegedly ramming his car (“They’re all the same, them people!”), then sought a Jewish lawyer to represent him because “they’re smarter and shrewder.”

Arnold Forster, general counsel to the ADL, considers the series a “reinforcement” of stereotypes, and Whitney M. Young Jr., the late executive director of the National Urban League, had described the show as similar to “Amos ‘n’ Andy.” Norman Lear, co-producer and story consultant for “All in the Family,” said recently on the “David Frost Show” that the program seeks first to entertain and second to cause viewers to reconsider their own prejudices. The show’s supporters have included the critics of the New York Times and TV Guide, and it is a personal favorite of CBS-TV president Robert D. Wood. George Friedman, Jewish Telegraphic Agency staff reporter who recently reviewed this program, wrote: “Some impressionable youngsters may learn the wrong lessons from the program – but this observer’s viewpoint is that the series (at least so far) is an always funny, often brilliant one that both makes its anti-bias points and entertains; the ideal combination.” The series, which now airs Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m., will be shifted to Mondays at 10:30 in the fall. It is still uncertain, Cowden said, whether the episodes aired this spring will be rerun this summer. He said there were no plans to change the characters, personnel or format of the show.

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