NEW YORK – CBS isn't backing away from plans to produce The Real Beverly Hillbillies, even after meeting with rural activists who have protested the show.
Officials from the Center For Rural Strategies, a Kentucky-based group that represents rural Americans, met this week in Los Angeles with CBS chief Les Moonves to air their gripes. But, at least for the moment, the network is going forward with the show.
"They came, we talked, that's all there is to say," said a CBS spokesman.
At one point, it seemed the network was backing away from the project that was first announced five months ago.
Meanwhile, several rural activist groups have banded together to protest the planned show, charging that it is demeaning. The groups have spent about $100,000 on newspaper ads, and critics have called the search for a cast a "hick hunt."
One ad takes a shot at Moonves: "Les Moonves may fly over rural America in his corporate jet but that doesn't give him the right to look down on the hard-working people who live there."
CBS, a unit of Viacom, unveiled plans for the show in August, and since then the network's talent scouts have been scouring the rural South looking for a family to cast in the show.
The search has focused on the Appalachian hills of Kentucky. Groups have picketed outside a CBS affiliate station in Kentucky, and area high school students have begun a letter-writing campaign.
The show's premise is to take a rural, backwoods family, move them to a posh mansion in Beverly Hills, Calif. and see how they interact with their new neighbors and environment.