Reelz CEO Defends Miss USA Pickup, Talks Future of 'Cosby Show' Reruns

Stan Hubbard

After watching the entire miniseries in a marathon weekend screening, the president and CEO of ReelzChannel was convinced he wanted to air it on his 5-year-old network.

Reelz CEO Stan E. Hubbard knew he would be asked about his decision to pick up Donald Trump's Miss USA pageant when he brought his network to the Television Critics Association summer press tour. And so he took on the controversy head-on by opening his remarks Sunday morning by reiterating how proud he was to have saved the pageant after it was jettisoned by NBC and Univision in the wake of Trump’s inflammatory remarks about Mexican immigrants.

"As many of you know, Reelz has been in the news lately for saving he Miss USA pageant, and we’re darn proud of that," said Hubbard.

Asserting that the competition had been dumped out of an understandable acquiescence to political correctness, Hubbard stressed that he also was offended by Trump’s comments (the GOP presidential candidate called Mexican immigrants “rapists” and “drug dealers”).

“I think they were terrible," said Hubbard. "I think they were ridiculous.” But he noted that the women competing in the pageant as well as the community of Baton Rouge, La., which “rolled out the red carpet” for the event earlier this summer, and fans of the competition, should not be penalized for Trump’s remarks. “We were very happy to stand with the women of the Miss USA pageant.”

Of course, Trump has ignited a new round of criticism for his un-P.C. ways after his performance at Thursday’s GOP debate. There he seemed to double down on a history of derogatory comments about women (he has called them “fat pigs” and “disgusting animals”) in response to questions from Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly. And he has since favorited and retweeted many offensive tweets about Kelly and seemed to suggest in a post-debate interview with CNN that she was hard on him because she was menstruating.

Hubbard would not entertain too many questions about Trump during his time at the podium, explaining that he did not want to eat into the time for his network’s new reality show Master P’s Family Empire. Hubbard called the series, which bows Nov. 28, “a very real look at a rap music empire.” Master P said he chose Reelz because the network was not looking to gin up conflict or mine tired "stereotypes."

“A lot of these reality shows, people are fighting and cursing,” said Master P.

Of course, Hubbard, whose family started the Twin Cities-based Hubbard Broadcasting in the 1920s, has some experience with hot-potato TV projects. The network famously picked up Joel Surnow's The Kennedys miniseries. And Hubbard noted that when such opportunities arise again, they’ll be there.

“I predict we’ll do it again, though I don’t know when that will be,” said Hubbard. “We’re a network that is willing and able to stand up and make those decisions even in a politically charged atmosphere. ”

But one show that Hubbard will not rescue from the scrap heap is The Cosby Show. TV Land and African-American targeted Bounce TV pulled reruns of the show in the wake of allegations from dozens of women who say that Bill Cosby drugged and raped them.

"When we dealt with the pageant, we could look at a group of contestants, we could look at a community in Baton Rouge that were going to be fallout, and for good reason. We didn't try to bail Trump out of a problem. We helped the pageant," explained Hubbard. "If we picked up The Cosby Show, to me it would feel like stepping right in and supporting (Cosby). From everything I know and read, that's not something I'm going to be supportive of."

Hubbard noted that the unofficial family mantra is: "Always do the right thing."

And he concluded, "Picking up The Cosby Show would not be the right thing."