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Ellen accuses ABC of anti-gay bias

Ellen DeGeneres won't like this column because I'm heterosexual.

That, of course, is a ridiculous statement. But no more ridiculous than what DeGeneres is spouting off to the media these days.In an interview with "Entertainment Tonight" that aired earlier this week, the star of "Ellen" said that ABC is going to cancel her show because she is homosexual.

"I'm gay, the character's gay and that's the problem everyone has with the show," DeGeneres said. "It's just too controversial. Nobody wants to deal with it."

Which is patently ridiculous. ABC weathered storms of criticism for going along with DeGeneres' plans to have her character come out of the closet as a lesbian. And the network has kept the show on the air despite being lied to by its star.

DeGeneres told ABC programmers that "Ellen" would not be about being homosexual every week. And that is exactly what the sitcom has turned out to be this season.

And all of this is incredibly ironic - at the same time that the Southern Baptists are boycotting ABC and its corporate parent, Disney, for being allegedly pro-gay, DeGeneres is attacking the network for being allegedly anti-gay.

ABC executives insist that no decision has been made yet on the future of "Ellen." But no one will be surprised if the network does indeed cancel the show.

"It's pretty safe to say this is it for the `Ellen' show," DeGeneres told "ET." "I'm getting every indication that they're not picking up the show."

But insisting that the demise of the show would come because of her sexual orientation ignores the facts - the ratings for "Ellen" have been in decline ever since the highly watched episode in which the character declared her lesbianism in April 1997.

Add to that the fact that "Ellen" loses a significant chunk of the audience that "Drew Carey" feeds into the show and the result is almost a foregone conclusion.

For example, this past week "Drew Carey" finished 24th in the ratings with an 8.9 rating. "Ellen" finished 53rd with a 6.3 rating - a drop of almost 30 percent.

The ratings for both shows were lower than usual because of competition from the Winter Olympics, but the percentages were not unusual.

Of course, DeGeneres provided "Entertainment Tonight" with an excuse for this as well.

"We unfortunately are dropping off from `Drew Carey' - not the same audience," she said. "Surprise."

Oddly enough, she didn't complain when the ratings of "Drew Carey" seemed to be boosting her show's numbers last year.

All of this is supremely bizarre given that DeGeneres stated a year ago that she didn't want ABC to renew "Ellen" for the current season. And because she threatened to quit last fall when the network slapped content ratings on the show that were stronger than she wanted them to be.

If and when "Ellen" is canceled, it will be purely a business decision based on ratings and advertising dollars. The fact is that if "Ellen" were a ratings blockbuster, ABC would keep it on the air regardless of DeGeneres' sexual orientation.