May 15, 7:15 AM EDT
`Dog the Bounty Hunter' to return to A&E
By SUDHIN THANAWALA
Associated Press Writer
HONOLULU (AP) -- Bounty hunter Duane "Dog" Chapman's TV show will return to the air this summer, months after it was pulled when the reality star used a racial slur in a profanity-laced tirade.
Filming has begun on the fifth season, according to executives with A&E, the cable network that broadcast "Dog the Bounty Hunter." Reruns of the show will start June 25, with new episodes, including ones from the fourth season that have not previously aired, coming a few weeks later.
The show features Chapman and crew chasing down bail jumpers in Hawaii and other states. It was pulled from the air in November when Chapman was heard in a taped phone conversation using a racial slur in reference to his son's girlfriend, who is black.
The Chapman family, A&E executives and a representative from a civil rights organization were part of a carefully choreographed press conference Wednesday to announce the relaunch of the show.
The message: Chapman deserves a second chance.
"It's not about ratings," A&E spokesman Michael Feeney said. "We know his heart. We know him and know he's not a racist."
Scott Lonker, vice president nonfiction and alternative programming at A&E, said viewer demand for the show also weighed in the decision.
Niger Innis, national chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality, said Chapman's use of the racial slur was wrong. But he noted that Chapman "took ownership of the harm it caused" and "sought to turn his life around."
Alphonso Braggs, Hawaii chapter president of the NAACP, disagreed, saying Chapman got off lightly for behavior that is "absolutely unacceptable."
"If individuals see they are able to behave inappropriately with little or no consequence, they will continue that pattern," he said.
Chapman, in his trademark sunglasses and badge, signed a copy of his book, "You Can Run But You Can't Hide" at the media-only event and said he was "ashamed" by his racial comments.
He said he has received counseling and reached out to blacks, speaking at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event and participating in a toy drive.
"There was one perfect person, and they called him Jesus Christ," Chapman said. "You have to ... realize that everyone is human, and you can err."
His wife, Beth, said her husband's use of the racial slur was not a reflection of the family's feelings and vowed it would not set them back.
"We're Chapmans, and we're fighters," she said. "And brother, we're not going to settle in our setbacks. We're going to have a comeback."