“We’re darned proud of that,” Reelz CEO Stan Hubbard said of picking up the Miss USA pageant in July after NBC cancelled it for what Hubbard said were “reasons of political correctness.” Hubbard predicted Reelz would return to the pageant “but I don’t know when it will be.”
As the only “family owned network left and one of few independents,” Hubbard crowed, Reelz can “move quickly and make those kinds of decisions when they present themselves.”
In July, Reelz landed the broadcast after it was jettisoned by pageant co-owner NBC (following Univision’s lead) in the wake of incendiary comments about Mexicans made by pageant co-owner and presidential hopeful Donald Trump.
Hubbard noted that Reelz was no stranger to controversial broadcasts. In 2011 Reelz picked up The Kennedys miniseries after History bailed, when critics of the project claimed it was riddled with inaccuracies and deliberately unflattering portrayals.
The Kennedys brought Reelz its first Emmy Award, while the network’s Miss USA presentation suffered the pageant’s smallest audience on record, though it snared headlines for Reelz, currently seen in about 60% of American households with one or more TVs.
After predicting that Reelz will revisit the pageant at some unknown date (“We will stand up and make those decisions even in politically charged situations”), Hubbard tried to move on to his networks’ Master P’s Family Empire panel. Reporters at TCA weren’t having it, though, with one shouting a demand that Hubbard take questions about the pageant pickup.
Hubbard obliged, saying the pageant was the “life’s mission” of its competitors, that Baton Rouge had rolled out the red carpet for the show, and that TV audiences had been watching the pageant for more than five decades. He described the pageant loyalists as suffering “the fallout” of Trump’s comments and NBC’s reaction.
As to Trump’s comments, about rapists and other criminals coming across the Mexican border into the United States, Hubbard said again (as he had when he announced the pageant pick-up) “I understand why so many people were offended by what Mr. Trump said. We completely disavowed ourselves” of his remarks. Hubbard further called Trump’s remarks “terrible – ridiculous.”
After the Master P Q&A, Hubbard took more questions in a scrum, then stopped by the press tables to ask the reporter if he’d answered her question to her satisfaction. The reporter responded that usually the expression “political correctness” is “used by conservatives who are unhappy the world is changing.” Hubbard said she might be right but “I think it’s something that ultimately works in every direction and ultimately when that happens, nobody is going to be happy.”