New on TV: Search for a Playboy Playmate

July 7, 2008 - 7:03 PM

( - Conservatives are once again complaining about network and cable television programmers, whose latest family-hour offerings include one show revolving around the search for a Playboy centerfold and another that allegedly contains a discussion with middle school children about their homosexuality.

Fox Television airs "The Girl Next Door: The Search for a Playboy Centerfold" Friday night at 8 p.m., Eastern Time. Nickelodeon, a leading children's network, airs "Nick News" Sunday night at 8:30 p.m., Eastern Time. While Nickelodeon's Internet site makes no specific mention of homosexuality in advertising Sunday's program, the Traditional Values Coalition is criticizing the program even before it airs.

"Nickelodeon advertises itself as a network that parents can trust, but this effort to promote homosexuality shows that parents should think twice before allowing their children to watch this cable channel," Andrea Lafferty, executive director of The Traditional Values Coalition, said.

Lafferty said Sunday's Nick News would include a discussion about homosexual families and anti-discrimination laws and feature middle school children who describe themselves as homosexual.

Lafferty directed most of her criticism at Linda Ellerbee, the producer of Nick News, who Lafferty described as a longtime supporter of homosexual causes. Lafferty said Ellerbee participated in the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) "Fairness Awards," a ceremony recognizing organizations and individuals that promote homosexuality in the media.

Elerbee could not be reached for comment through her Lucky Duck Productions company and a spokesperson for Nickelodeon did not return several messages left by Thursday. While Nickelodeon's Internet site does not specifically refer to homosexuality in advertising Sunday's Nick News, it does promote the program as one that "travels the world tackling the toughest topics and exposing the hottest trends."

"Why would Lucky Duck want to produce a program that violates the moral beliefs of the parents who are trusting Nickelodeon as a safe place for children?" Lafferty asked.

In addition to its Sunday night showing on Nickelodeon, Nick News is also shown in classrooms across the country as a part of "Cable in the Classroom," according to the Traditional Values Coalition.

Fox TV Entertainment is also drawing fire for its program focusing on the search for a Playboy Playmate.

"In my opinion, there is a difference between a nice girl and a girl who takes money to strip before a pornographer's camera,"

Robert Peters, president of Morality In Media, said. "There isn't really much difference between a girl who gets paid to have sex with men and a girl who gets paid by a pornographer to strip naked so that millions of men and boys can fantasize about having sex with her."

Peters said Fox would do anything to attract viewers, even if the content is questionable.

"FOX TV Entertainment made its mark and continues to make its mark by proving that there is no garbage pit too deep, if doing so will attract a large enough audience of bottom feeders to keep the network on the air," Peters said.

A spokesman for Fox TV Entertainment, however, insisted the program would not be offensive and would adhere to all broadcast decency standards.

The spokesman, who did not want his name revealed, said the special is a reality based program in which 12 women will live with each other and compete for the prize of being the July 2002 Playmate Centerfold in Playboy.

"It is a two-hour special ... this is not the Victoria's Secret lingerie special where you just have models walking down a catwalk in lingerie," he said. "This is really a story of twelve young women that participated in this nationwide search to become part of Americana. Playboy has been around for fifty years. This is a dream of many women. It's not a dream of many women."

The Fox spokesman said viewers would be able to get to know the ladies for who they are and not just for their bodies.

"We are network television. Everyone knows we are not showing nudity. There isn't any nudity in this."

He added that if viewers expect to see nudity, they would be disappointed.

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