It seems that the same blackballing efforts that plagued “Gosnell” are beginning to plague the anti-Planned Parenthood movie “Unplanned.” According to The Hollywood Reporter, TV networks are now refusing to run ads for the PureFlix movie that received a wide theatrical release on Friday.
Lifetime, Hallmark Channel, HGTV and other cable networks other than Fox News have completely blocked “Unplanned” trailers from their platforms.
“If you haven’t seen a commercial for Unplanned, an anti-abortion movie critical of Planned Parenthood, it isn’t for lack trying on the part of marketers, whose efforts have been consistently rebuffed by TV networks,” reports THR. “Pure Flix, the distributor behind the box office hit God’s Not Dead and other movies aimed at Christians, opens the movie in 1,000 theaters today, but outside of the Fox News Channel, every other mainstream television outlet has declined to air the ad.”
The networks have reportedly given the makers of “Unplanned” ambiguous excuses for the decision. Lifetime, for instance, said they would not run ads due to the “sensitive nature of the film,” an obvious deflection, especially when considering that Lifetime previously promoted “an interview with Scarlett Johansson where she pitches Planned Parenthood,” according to the marketers.
“The Travel Channel, Cooking Channel, HGTV and Food Network, each of which are owned by Discovery, also refused to sell ad time for ‘Unplanned’ due to the ‘sensitive nature’ of the movie, say those who tried buying air time,” the report continues. “Other networks that refused to advertise the movie include the Hallmark Channel and USA Network, the latter of which is owned by NBCUniversal.”
Lifetime is owned by A&E Networks, a joint venture of Hearst Communications and Walt Disney. Most recently, Hearst Communications was embroiled in another controversy for allegedly spiking the Esquire story exposing allegations of sexual abuse at the hands of “X-Men” director Bryan Singer. The story eventually got published at The Atlantic, an incident that left the story’s two reporters baffled.
“We have been asked why a story reported and written by two Esquire writers is being published in The Atlantic,” the Bryan Singer reporters said in a statement in January. “This story began with our editors at Esquire. After months of reporting, this story went through Esquire’s editorial process, which included fact-checking and vetting by a Hearst attorney, and the story was approved for publication.”
“The story was then killed by Hearst executives. We do not know why,” the statement continued. “We are most grateful that the alleged victims now have a chance to be heard and we hope the substance of their allegations remains the focus.”
John Sullivan, a producer on “Unplanned,” and who also directed “2016: Obama’s America,” told THR that money was there but the networks would not take their business. “We were looking to spend money, but they didn’t want to get involved,” he said.
Joe Knopp, another producer on “Unplanned,” said the networks were largely vague in their reasoning. “Most of the networks didn’t go into detail beyond citing the subject matter of the film and that they didn’t want to get into politics. But we don’t believe we’re in the political category,” said Knopp.
Controversy regarding the marketing for “Unplanned” erupted when the MPAA inexplicably gave the move an R-rating despite mild violence with virtually no foul language or sexuality.
“Unplanned” tells the story of famed Planned Parenthood defector Abby Johnson, who left the organization to become a pro-life activist after witnessing an abortion while working at the Bryan, Texas clinic in 2009. Planned Parenthood has denounced the film as “simply false.”
“The claims in this film are simply false,” the organization said in a statement. “Planned Parenthood is proud to provide expert, high-quality health care to our patients, including safe and legal abortion, in a safe and compassionate environment. The movie promotes many falsehoods including most importantly, distortions and incorrect depictions about healthcare.”