Regardless of the current controversy and behind-the-scenes tension, A&E has every intention of keeping Phil Robertson on the air.
A source close to the situation confirmed that when the network resumes airing its previously shot new episodes of Duck Dynasty starting Jan. 15, footage featuring the Robertson patriarch will indeed remain intact. The network also hopes the media and fan furor will cool down over the holidays and that tensions over shooting future episodes can then be resolved.
“There’s no negotiation to have; we’re doing the show,” said an insider close to the situation. “We’ll figure out a solution. It’s just not going to happen overnight. Everybody will take a break for the holidays and regroup afterward. That’s probably the smartest thing for everyone to do. Time heals a lot of wounds.”
The Robertson family hasn’t sounded as optimistic, with a source close to the Louisiana duck call clan telling E!: “They’re an extremely tight-knit family and they’re not going to let this get in the way. [Phil] is the reason for their success—they’re not going to abandon him. They’re also not about to let anyone threaten their religious beliefs.” A representative for the family could not be reached for comment.
Duck Dynasty is in the middle of its fourth season and currently averaging an incredible 14.6 million viewers when including seven days of DVR playback. Nine of its remaining 10 episodes have already been shot. The uproar over the network’s decision to suspend the Robertson patriarch for his comments to GQ has caused a firestorm that, among other things, has resulted in the network’s president receiving death threats, sources confirmed. The shot episodes in the can gives A&E a fair amount of time to potentially resolve the crisis, however, before a final decision on whether to include Phil Robertson in future episodes needs to be made. The network is also airing a Duck Dynasty repeat marathon on Sunday.