July 1, 2005 -- THE winners of ABC's controversial reality show, "Welcome to the Neighborhood," will get to keep their prize, a new home — even if the series is never broadcast.
After heavily promoting "Neighborhood," ABC yanked the show Wednesday night, just days before it was set to debut, after the network came under attack from civil-rights groups who argued that the show violated federal fair-housing laws.
Despite the controversy, ABC has left the door open to return the series to its schedule at a future date.
On the show — something of a cross between "Desperate Housewives" and "The Bachelor" — seven diverse families try to win a home on a cul-de-sac near Austin, Texas, by wooing the three families who already live there.
Through a series of interviews and competitions, the neighbors decide which family would fit in best with the community's mostly Christian and Republican values.
The entire series was taped months ago.
Among the families who attempted to win the 3,300-square-
foot, four-bedroom home were:
* The Wrights, two white gay men with a young, adopted black boy.
* The Lees, a foreign-born Korean family who were the first to be eliminated after residents were turned off by their broken English
* The Morgans, a picture perfect family — except the mom is secretly a stripper
* The Eckharts, a white family who practices Wicca, frequently confused with witchcraft
* The Gonzalezes, a loud, boisterous Hispanic family
* The Sheets, a white family covered in tattoos — who are staunch Republicans
* The Crenshaws, a religious black family.
The Wrights made it at least as far as the second episode, but ran into problems with the cul-de-sac residents because they were gay.
At a meeting of the residents to talk about the candidates, there was an argument between the cul-de-sac adults and kids, who ripped their parents for being close-minded about gay people, according to show sources.
The parents were furious over the debate and one couple, the Daniels — an extremely devout Christian family — actually cried at the thought of allowing gays to move into the neighborhood.
Among the various challenges the applicants were put through was a re-enactment of a fire that once tore through a home on the street. The goal was to see how the wannabe-neighbors would react.