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Robertson to return to ‘Dynasty’

A&E Television will resume production of “Duck Dynasty” with family patriarch Phil Robertson, lifting his suspension after the family expressed regret for his remarks about homosexuality in GQ magazine.

The network will air a national public-service campaign promoting “unity, tolerance and acceptance among all people,” according to an emailed statement Friday from New York-based A&E. Production will resume later this year.

“He and his family have publicly stated they regret the ‘coarse language’ he used and the misinterpretation of his core beliefs based only on the article,” A&E said. “He also made it clear he would ‘never incite or encourage hate.’ ”

Robertson’s comments were slammed by groups including GLAAD, the gay media watch organization. But A&E’s decision drew a backlash from those who said they supported Robertson’s comments and others who defended him on the basis of freedom of speech.

Robertson’s well-known supporters included former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who complained that his free-speech rights were being trampled. Bobby Jindal, governor of the state of Louisiana, complained that Miley Cyrus got a pass for twerking on TV while Phil got shown the door.

The decision allows the network and the Robertson family to move ahead with one of cable television’s most-watched shows, one seen by an average of 14.6 million people an episode, according to Nielsen data. The show produced almost $80 million in ad revenue for A&E this year, according to Kantar Media, and about $400 million in merchandise sales, Forbes said.

Robertson, 67, the head of a Louisiana family that makes duck-hunting gear, was suspended indefinitely last week after telling GQ magazine that homosexuals were akin to adulterers, the greedy, drunkards and swindlers and would not “inherit the kingdom of God.” A petition calling for A&E to bring him back reached 250,000 signatures and counting in about a week. A&E said it was bringing Robertson back after discussions with his Louisiana family and “numerous advocacy groups.”

‘Today’ gets nostalgic

The “Today” show is ending the year on a nostalgic note. NBC says that former “Today” anchors Jane Pauley and Bryant Gumbel will join Matt Lauer for Monday’s show.

Gumbel left the morning program in 1997 after 15 years, and Pauley exited in 1989 after a 13-year tenure. They were co-anchors for seven years.