Networks Passing on Mel's 'Passion'
Peter Kramer/STAR MAX
Moviegoers may have lined up en masse for Mel Gibson's box-office blockbuster "The Passion of the Christ," but ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX are not following the flock.
The Associated Press reports that all four of the major networks are unlikely to broadcast the R-rated religious film, though so far only ABC has confirmed turning it down.
At issue, apparently, is the film's graphic depiction of Jesus Christ's crucifixion, and the aftermath of the Janet Jackson Super Bowl flap has caused government officials to monitor closely what is aired on TV.
"There might be a lot of baggage because of the violence," Brad Adgate, an analyst for the ad-buying firm Horizon Media, tells AP. "That can put some pressure on advertisers not to buy this."
FOX entertainment chief Gail Berman says her network's broadcast standards department is evaluating the film before making a decision on whether to pursue airing it. NBC and CBS executives confirmed they had been offered the movie but declined further comment.
"We're not doing it," ABC entertainment spokesman Kevin Brockman did say, without offering an explanation why.
Hollywood agent Jeff Berg, who is representing Gibson's Icon Productions for the proposed network sale, would not comment on any negotiations. Since opening on Feb. 25, Ash Wednesday, "The Passion of the Christ" has earned $360.9 million in North America.
The movie has also reportedly been shopped to pay cable networks, where content is not subject to the same restrictions as those faced by the commercial networks.
HBO (which, like PEOPLE, is part of Time Warner) would not comment, reports AP, which was told by the network's executives that they already have a full plate of movie premieres scheduled for the coming year.
Showtime has passed on the movie, a network spokesman told AP.
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