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A+E Networks president and CEO Nancy Dubuc has not been shying away from hot-button issues of late. The exec recently launched, to much success, a Scientology exposé starring former church member Leah Remini and, to less success, attempted to put a documentary series about the KKK on the air.
Dubuc, appearing at the Miami conference for National Association of Television Program Executives, broached both subjects during her Tuesday keynote — and shared an interesting fact about Scientology’s campaign against the show.
“My personal Facebook is all anti-Leah,” she said, adding that the church must be buying negative social media about the project. “My friends think it’s wild.”
Scientology and the Aftermath has been a success for A+E. The doc series brought the network its best premiere ratings in years, has inspired a rabid community on social media and, perhaps best for the flagship network in Dubuc’s portfolio, has given it some critical cachet.
“We’re very proud of her,” Dubuc added of the star and executive producer, who works with families harassed by the controversial church. “It’s a courageous thing to do.”
One area where A+E admittedly did not have much success was with Escaping the KKK. The high-profile documentary series, filmed over the course of a year and a half, was announced in December and swiftly (and preemptively) canceled when the network found out that producers had allegedly paid members of the hate group to appear on camera.
“The investigation is ongoing,” said Dubuc. “We’re not sure yet where the issues really lay. Clearly there are some issues there. We need to continue our independent investigation, and we’ll move forward from there.”
The exec added that the findings of that investigation will dictate how she and her lieutenants approach such programming moving forward.
“We were dealing with producers who may or may not have been following documentary protocol,” she continued. “We have to be more surgical and tailored in how we’re dealing with our partners. But we’re going to do that after the investigation is complete.”
One thing Dubuc did not shy away from was the controversial nature of the topic. Though some cried foul on giving the KKK a platform well before the allegations, she insisted that sort of uncomfortable and educational programming is important to A+E.
“A+E has always looked in places where others didn’t want to look,” she said. “There’s a service in that.”
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