Phil Robertson’s “Duck Dynasty” family is excited to return to work next spring and resume filming its hit show with its patriarch back on the job.
The family is “excited to keep making a quality TV show for our dedicated fans, who have showed us wonderful support. We will continue to represent our faith and values in the most positive way through ‘Duck Dynasty’ and our many projects that we are currently working on,” it said in an exclusive statement to FoxNews.com.
Friday night, A&E announced it would bring Robertson back onto the show, reversing its decision to suspend him after making comments in a GQ Magazine interview about homosexuality.
Robertson’s hiatus brought outrage from many conservatives, who said the network was curbing his rights to freedom of speech and religion. Political figures such as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal also spoke out against A&E’s decision.
“The outpouring of support and prayer has encouraged and emboldened us greatly,” the 67-year-old family patriarch’s family said in its statement to Fox.
The reality show’s fifth season was to have started on Jan. 15, but the family had said it could not fathom continuing the program without Robertson at the helm.
A&E, while announcing it would allow Robertson on the show, noted that his comments in the GQ interview reflect his own beliefs and personal journey.
“He and his family have publicly stated they regret the ‘coarse language’ he used and the misinterpretation of his core beliefs based only on the article. He also made it clear he would ‘never incite or encourage hate,'” A&E said in its statement.
Further, the network noted that its top-rated show is not only about Phil Robertson, but “resonates with a large audience because it is a show about family, a family that America has come to love” that often comes “together to reflect and pray for unity, tolerance, and forgiveness.”
While Cracker Barrel pulled the merchandise for a few days, Wal-Mart kept it on the shelf, selling out many of the T-shirts, hats, and other paraphernalia in the last shopping days before Christmas.
The Robertson family has a merchandise empire worth $400 million, according to Forbes, with sales in Wal-Mart acounting for about half of that amount.
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By Sandy Fitzgerald