GAY GROUPS PREEMPT ALABAMA ELLEN BLACKOUT
Satellite downlink planned for banned TV show
April 22, 1997
NEW YORK CITY, APRIL 22, 1997- Following the refusal by Birmingham, Alabama ABC affiliate 33/40 to air the history-making "coming out" episode of Ellen, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and Birmingham Pride Alabama (BPA) will downlink the episode via satellite to an audience of thousands of Ellen fans. Birmingham's "Official Welcome Out Ellen Party" will take place at the Boutwell Auditorium, 1930 8th Ave. N., on Wednesday, April 30th at 6:00 PM. The "Welcome Out Ellen Party" was created in response to ABC 33/40 General Manager Jerry Heilman's decision to pull Ellen from his station's evening lineup. Heilman, defending a decision many civil rights experts have called censorship, told the Los Angeles Times that Ellen was "not appropriate for family viewing." GLAAD Entertainment Media Director Chastity Bono thinks that Birmingham television viewers should make that decision for themselves. "Heilman made the decision to pull Ellen before seeing it. We should all have the chance to see the show without that choice being made for us," said Ms. Bono. GLAAD will be working hand-in-hand with BPA and with other local organizations to ensure a successful event. Cathy Renna, GLAAD Washington DC Media Resource Manager praised the work being done in Birmingham. "The 'Welcome Out Ellen Party,' is a testament to the courage and determination of lesbians and gay Alabamans, their families and friends to overcome bigotry," said Ms. Renna. "ABC 33/40's attempt to segregate American television flies in the face of our cultural foundations of fairness and respect," she added. "There's an Ellen in every family," said Kevin Snow, BPA's vice president. "This event is a chance for our whole community to celebrate our own 'Ellens,' and to let the world know that we will not allow ABC 33/40 to deny us the chance to participate in television history in the making." BPA's "Welcome Out Ellen Party" at Boutwell Auditorium, located at 1930 8th Ave. N. begins at 6:00 PM, and will feature dancing, letter-writing and an indoor street fair. Tickets are available for a suggested donation of $5.00 through Ticketline at (800) 277-1700 or (205) 715-6000. In addition, special tables for 10 can be purchased for $150 directly from BPA at (205) 254-9199. GLAAD is the nation's lesbian and gay news bureau and the only national lesbian and gay multimedia watchdog organization. GLAAD promotes fair, accurate and inclusive representation as a means of challenging discrimination based on sexual orientation or identity. GLAAD maintains a "Come Out With Ellen" Web site at www.glaad.org.