1:49pm PT by Kate Stanhope
TLC GM Defends Talent-Screening Process, Discusses Future Duggar Specials
TLC still is feeling the aftereffects of the Duggar sex scandal.
General Manager Nancy Daniels faced several tough questions from the Television Critics Association about the discovery of Josh Duggar's past sexual assault of underage girls and the subsequent cancellation of his family's reality series two months after it was removed from the Discovery-owned cable network's schedule.
Particularly, Daniels was asked about how the network screens possible new talent. Less than a year before the tumultuous final chapter of 19 Kids and Counting, TLC was forced to ax Here Comes Honey Boo Boo in late 2014 after allegations surfaced about a romantic relationship between series matriarch June Shannon and a man convicted of child molestation.
"We do have a strong screening process, and I think, over the years, our screening process has evolved," Daniels told reporters Thursday at the winter press tour.
In May, Duggar admitted to molesting several underage girls 12 years ago — including two of his sisters — after reports of his crimes surfaced in InTouch magazine. TLC subsequently removed the long-running show from its schedule. The series remained in purgatory for nearly two months before the network formally canceled it in July.
At that time, TLC also ordered a one-hour documentary, Breaking the Silence, which aimed to raise awareness of childhood sexual abuse. The special aired in August and featured two of Duggar's sisters, Jill and Jessa, in addition to other survivors and families. "We immediately connected with RAINN and Darkness to Light, which are two very respected [organizations], to figure out the appropriate response," said Daniels on Thursday.
Although TLC called time of death on 19 Kids and Counting, the network hasn't completely severed its relationship with the entire Duggar clan. The network aired three specials squarely centered on Duggar daughters Jill and Jessa, who became two of the most famous Duggar offspring, thanks to their highly publicized weddings and pregnancies. The specials focused on their new lives as wives and mothers.
Daniels said the three specials, titled Jill and Jessa: Counting On, "did very well," drawing more than 3 million viewers, but she remained mum on TLC's future relationship with the Duggar family.
"The audience clearly cares about these girls," said Daniels. "We're still talking and considering it, but we have not made a decision yet."