PBS Chief Addresses Fred Willard Firing After Actor's Lewd Conduct Arrest

Erika Larsen

"Our concern was his circumstances would actually become a distraction from the series," said PBS president and CEO Paula Kerger.

PBS president and CEO Paula Kerger addressed the public broadcaster’s decision to quickly fire Fred Willard from the network’s competition reality show Market Warriors after the 72-year-actor was caught allegedly engaging in a “lewd act” at a Los Angeles triple-X movie house.

Kerger attributed PBS’ quick decision – which was made less than 24 hours after Willard’s arrest – mainly to the show’s production schedule.

“We’re taping now,” said Kerger, addressing reporters at the Television Critics Association summer press tour on Saturday. “That’s why we had to make a quick decision.”

“At the end of the week when [Willard’s arrest] became known, we realized that we had to move fast,” she said. “Our concern was his circumstances would actually become a distraction form the series.”

Kerger added that PBS decision-makers spoke to Willard about the decision. And he apparently did not fight it. Willard’s lawyer, Paul Takakjian, contends his client did nothing wrong and will fight the charge.

“With all due respect to the individual officer, our belief is that Fred did nothing in any violation of any law,” said Takakjian in a statement. “We will be working vigorously to clear his name in this matter.”

Mark Walberg, the long-time host of Antiques Roadshow, has been pressed into service on Market Warriors. Walberg is re-recording narration on finished episodes and will henceforth be the voice of the show, which is an Antiques Roadshow spinoff.

“It actually links the two shows together,” said Kerger.

Market Warriors will air on Monday as scheduled. 


Email: Marisa.Guthrie@thr.com

Twitter: @MarisaGuthrie