A scene from the short film 'A Night at the Garden.'.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Fox News told the creators of an Oscar-nominated documentary about a Nazi rally in the United States that it could not air a commercial on its network.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Fox News rejected a 30-second spot, titled It Can Happen Here, saying it was “not appropriate for our air.”
The short clip was intended as both a PSA and a promotion for the documentary short, A Night at the Garden, which spotlights a 1939 Nazi rally at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The 30-second ad shows footage from the rally itself, and then cuts to a black screen with the words “It can happen here.” The film’s distributor requested the ad run during the popular Fox News show Hannity.
Fox News Channel’s president of ad sales, Marianne Gambelli, said: ”The ad in question is full of disgraceful Nazi imagery regardless of the film’s message and did not meet our guidelines,” according to Variety.
The director of the film told The Hollywood Reporter that “It’s amazing to me that the CEO of Fox News would personally inject herself into a small ad buy just to make sure that Hannity viewers weren’t exposed to this chapter of American history.”
The Hollywood Reporter said that the clip will air in the local Los Angeles market on Thursday evening, but was prevented from running nationally.
But Variety speculated that the film’s advertisers knew it would be rejected, and were seeking publicity from the exchange.
“In many cases, the commercial in question is not suitable for air, or the advertiser can’t afford to pay the fees required for national distribution,” wrote Variety’s Brian Steinberg, noting that the ad has yet to air on any national TV network. “The claims of rejection can sometimes spur some media outlets to make a bigger issue out of what is often typical business procedure.”
But IndieWire – a respected film industry site – reported that Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott directly intervened in the decision. According to IndieWire’s Christian Blauvelt, Fox News has aired commercials with similar footage in the past. The site cited an ad for Dinesh D’Souza’s 2018 film Death of a Nation, which includes Nazi imagery and swastikas, and a Simon Wiesenthal Center spot which shows Holocaust footage.
By contrast, the It Can Happen Here commercial has no voiceover, and only references the film at the end of the clip.
The film was nominated alongside four others for the best documentary short Academy Award. The winner will be announced during the ceremony next Sunday.
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