Weinstein Co. hits NBC, CW over 'Shut Up' ad


The Weinstein Co. has blasted NBC and CW Network for refusing to accept a commercial spot for its new documentary "Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing," about the political firestorm stirred up in 2003 when the Dixie Chicks criticized President Bush during a performance in London.

In a press release issued late Thursday, the Weinstein Co. said that NBC had rejected a spot for the docu, which opens today in New York and Los Angeles, because the spot included material that "disparages President Bush." The Weinstein Co. distributed documents that appeared to be from NBC's advertising standards division rejecting the spots and with the handwritten remarks about President Bush.

NBC executives could not be reached for comment late Thursday. CW Network reps criticized the Weinstein Co. for what the network said was a distortion of the situation. The Weinstein Co. distributed a document from CW that referred to "concerns (that) we do not have appropriate programming in which to schedule this spot." A CW spokesman said the network had been in conversations with the Weinstein Co. about taking the spot, but those talks never progressed beyond where on the CW schedule the spot would run.

"The release is flat-out inaccurate," CW spokesman Paul McGuire said. "The whole matter is rather a mystery to us."

According to a source, the spot has been cleared for broadcast on CBS, MTV and on local NBC, CW, ABC and Fox affiliates in New York and Los Angeles, as well as on local cable systems, including local spots on Fox News and CNN. The commercial, posted at www.shutupandpost.com, features footage of Dixie Chicks singer Natalie Maines making the comment that the band is "ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas" as well as footage of Bush reacting to the controversy and scenes of anti-Dixie Chicks protests that erupted after Maines' comment was publicized.

"It's a sad commentary about the level of fear in our society that a movie about a group of courageous entertainers who were blacklisted for exercising their right of free speech is now itself being blacklisted by corporate America," Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of the Weinstein Co., said in a statement. "The idea that anyone should be penalized for criticizing the president is sad and profoundly un-American."

The Weinstein Co. release went so far as to include a comment from famed litigator David Boies criticizing NBC and CW.

"Political criticism is at the heart of the First Amendment," Boies said. "The legal issues are complicated. The policy is not. The public deserves to hear more than the official point of view."

"Shut Up" isn't the only new movie to generate controversy with its TV and radio marketing campaign. Earlier this week, CNN and National Public Radio refused ads for Newmarket's "Death of a President, which portrays the fictional assassination of President Bush.