"Big Love" network apologizes to Mormons

Wed Mar 11, 2009 1:14pm EDT
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - HBO, the network behind television polygamy drama "Big Love," apologized on Tuesday for any offense to Mormons in a depiction of a sacred ritual but made clear it would air the controversial episode as planned.

The HBO network's program about a non-Mormon polygamous family has stirred up a hornet's nest of complaints over an episode to be broadcast on Sunday showing its version of an endowment ceremony within a Mormon temple.

It is thought to be the first time the ritual, in which participants move to a higher level of understanding of their religion, will be shown on TV.

News of the episode prompted calls and e-mails for cancellation or an HBO boycott by angry members of the Mormon Church, officially known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).

The Church itself has not officially called for a boycott.

"Big Love," which first aired in 2006, stars Bill Paxton as a member of a fictional breakaway Mormon sect who has three wives and eight children.

HBO said on Tuesday the writers had gone to great lengths "to be respectful and accurate" in the ceremony's portrayal.

"Obviously, it was not our intention to do anything disrespectful to the church, but to those who may be offended, we offer our sincere apology," the network said in a statement. In a separate statement, the creators of the series said they "took great pains to depict the ceremony with the dignity and reverence it is due."   Continued...

<p>Cast member Bill Paxton poses at the premiere of the HBO original series "Big Love" at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, California, in this June 7, 2007 file photo. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/Files</p>