‘Duck Dynasty’: A&E Warned Phil Robertson About Speaking Out Too Much
The scandal has turned into the kind of tempest network executives feared all along. A&E knew of Robertson’s controversial views - expounded in videotaped sermons and elsewhere - before the show premiered in spring 2012, and warned him not to overshare on hot-button topics such as gay rights and race relations, according to a producer familiar with the situation. Phil and other family members also probably signed contracts containing “morals clauses” in which they promised to, among other things, avoid anything that would embarrass or bring shame to A&E or the brand. Such clauses are standard in the entertainment and sports industries.
In essence, the network was asking Phil - a man of legendary individuality, who once passed up an opportunity to sign with the NFL because it might interfere with his hunting - to be somewhat less Phil-like. But that is the kind of wobbly bargain that reality TV producers have been forced to make. If they bought the show, they were getting a volatile personality in the mix. A&E could of course have walked away - but that would have meant passing over a potential TV phenomenon, which is what the Robertsons became.