PBS announced on Wednesday that it is postponing the third season of “Finding Your Roots” after an internal review revealed actor Ben Affleck had “improper influence” over an episode featuring his family.
The documentary series, which explores celebrity family trees, is hosted by Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Reports surfaced in April, through hacked private emails between Gates and Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton, that the Oscar winner asked the show to edit out the fact that his ancestors had owned slaves.
The strongly worded statement from PBS and New York station WNET on Wednesday said the show’s co-producers “violated PBS standards by failing to shield the creative and editorial process from improper influence, and by failing to inform PBS or WNET of Mr. Affleck's efforts to affect program content.”
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The October 2014 episode featuring Affleck’s family will also be removed from “all forms of distribution including on-air, digital platforms and home video,” PBS said.
Affleck apologized for the incident on Facebook after the news broke in April, saying he “didn't want any television show about my family to include a guy who owned slaves. I was embarrassed. The very thought left a bad taste in my mouth.”
A fourth season of the show, said PBS, won’t happen until it is “satisfied that the editorial standards of the series have been successfully raised.” An independent genealogist will now “review all versions of program episodes for factual accuracy.”
Gates released his own statement on Wednesday, reported by Variety and other outlets, apologizing again for “not discussing my editing rationale with our partners at PBS and WNET” and “for putting PBS and its member stations in the position of having to defend the integrity of their programming.”