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A couple of different networks could announce as early as today that they are interested in forming a show starring David and Jason Benham, the two brothers who say they were dumped by HGTV because they object to same-sex marriage.
One of the networks, The Hollywood Reporter has learned, is INSP TV, which reaches 75 million homes with content that honors “traditional values.”
The brothers, both outgoing Christians who have attended prayer events where gay marriage and abortion are disparaged, had been set to host a show on HGTV called Flip It Forward, when liberal activists began last week to pressure the network into abandoning the two co-hosts. The Benhams have said HGTV was “bullied,” and they have no hard feelings against network brass for caving in to the pressure.
The brothers told THR on Monday that, while HGTV had previously wanted them to host a real estate show, other networks were interested in them for different concepts, including shows that would have also focused on their wives and kids, their fitness routines and their various other business. The brothers describe themselves as “serial entrepreneurs” who didn’t necessarily seek out a TV show, even though, prior to the gay-marriage controversy, they had been approached by five different networks.
Since the HGTV incident, the brothers have been in high demand as interview topics, especially within conservative media, but have kept themselves insulated from discussions with networks that might want to create a TV show around them.
“My brother and I are quite oblivious to what’s going on, other than the fact that we know a few networks have expressed interest in us. But we’ve not seen anything in writing,” David Benham said. “We never sought out the first show. HGTV came to us and wanted a house-flipping show, and we pulled the trigger. If another network wants us for a different show, we’ll sit down with them. But at this point, we have no preconceived ideas for a show. Right now, we’re just finalizing the media circus.”
Added Jason Benham: “We’re focused on getting through the next few weeks, setting the record straight and letting the dust settle. Then we’ll see where we pop up.”
He said networks discovered them about two years ago via newspaper and magazine articles, then put together video reels and liked what they saw. But they aren’t interested in abandoning their religious and moral values just to land a TV deal.
“David and I are solid individuals with strong beliefs, but if these networks are willing to put us on the air, we’d be willing to talk … we’re family guys, we’re fitness guys, we’re entrepreneurs, and we really hit it big in real estate, so a network could have a lot of fun with an idea to wrap around all that,” Jason Benham said.
“I think it would be healthy for America to show a balanced approach. But at the same time, we’re in the free market, and they have a choice to make. If they don’t choose us, it’s no big deal. We are not pushing this at all,” David Benham said.
A group that is pushing for the Benhams is called Faith Driven Consumer, which has organized a petition drive — signed by 15,000 people so far — to get them on TV. Chris Stone, the founder of the group, has put representatives for the brothers in touch with INSP, a network mostly associated with reruns of classic TV shows such as The Waltons and Little House on the Prairie.
Faith Driven Consumer is best known for a successful effort to defend Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson when activists attacked him for offensive remarks he made about gays in a magazine article. Stone said the rally on behalf of the Benham brothers has been equally enthusiastic so far.
“It’s clear that what would have been a very good show on HGTV with a solid audience is now a megahit in the making on another network,” Stone said.
INSP did not respond to a request for comment.
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