I received notice from Amazon.com that America Unearthed host Scott Wolter’s new book, Akhenaten to the Founding Fathers: Mysteries of the Hooked X®, has been delayed for a month. The publisher had planned to release the book on June 1, and Wolter had been promoting the book’s publication in radio appearances. No reason has been given for the delay.
Obviously, after Scott Wolter and A+E Television Networks, the parent company of H2, the channel that broadcasts America Unearthed and owns its trademarks, spent so much time and effort accusing me of infringing on their trademarks, I of course wanted to know whether A+E Television Networks (AETN) applied the same scrutiny to Scott Wolter’s own products. So I’ve been pressing AETN to state definitively whether they endorse Wolter’s work the same way that they lend their name, trademarks, and authority to books by the casts of American Pickers, Pawn Stars, Ice Road Truckers, and other programs. Those individuals’ books carry the History name or logo and are sold in the History online store while From Akhenaten lacks the History imprimatur.
Last night, after hours, AETN finally released a statement, about three weeks after I asked them to clarify. Over the past three weeks, their representative had told me it required more research and more time to determine the company’s position on Wolter’s work. Here’s AETN’s official comment, in its entirety:
As you know, Mr. Wolter hosts the AETN series America Unearthed on the H2 network. Although we wish Mr. Wolter well on his other endeavors, none of Mr. Wolter’s activities besides the America Unearthed series, including his books, are authorized, sponsored by, or affiliated with AETN.
Despite repeated requests, AETN will not tell me whether they have requested Wolter issue a disclaimer similar to the one they required of me to ensure audiences are not confused about his use of the America Unearthed name, his book’s graphic design similar to the program’s, or the substantial similarity between the content of his book and the TV series.
Contrast this with what Wolter said on the radio just last month in promoting his new book:
I give History Channel and H2 a lot of credit because I’ve sat down with, you know, uh, the head of the network, and I looked him in the eye, and I said ‘You guys, you know, this isn’t for the faint of heart. You know, we’re going to be hitting people between the eyes and we’re going to hit them hard. I mean when you start talking about people’s faith, about Jesus being married to Mary Magdalene and all of this. I mean this is heavy stuff, and it’s very disturbing to many people, and we’re not trying to offend anybody, we’re not trying to … I just want to know what happened. That’s where I’m coming from.’ And I said, ‘Look, it’s all hands on deck. You’re either all in or you’re not. Are you guys in?’ And they said, ‘We’re in.’
They’re “in,” just not insofar as it requires them to be responsible for anything Wolter actually says in any legal sense or in any way that involves actually supporting him or his work.
Now here’s a fun fact about the level of attention and support the network actually provides to Wolter and his crew. At the Realscreen West conference last week, the head of programming development at H2, Paul Cabana, explained to aspiring producers that experience was no barrier to getting a program on his network, using America Unearthed as an example. As RealScreen reported:
He also told the crowd that it is not always the case that you need a strong track record of producing or a West Coast agent to pitch to cable nets, and recounted an encouraging story for the Realscreen West audience, explaining that “two years ago at a Realscreen event, a husband and wife couple… came up and pitched to me.”
We have two choices here. Either Cabana is intentionally lying about the fact that the History Channel, the parent of H2, had been working with the “husband and wife couple,” Andrew and Maria Awes, on high-rated documentaries since 2009, or he simply pays no attention to the people he works with. The Awes, the owners of Committee Films, produced Holy Grail in America (with Scott Wolter) and Who Really Discovered America for History in 2009 and 2010, and both programs were (a) highly rated and (b) sold in the History.com store as History exclusive programs. These shows were intentionally designed to serve as pilots and practice runs for a future series, according to production documents I obtained from Minnesota Film and Television: “The depth of this topic goes beyond just one film and could spawn subsequent films, or potentially a series. We are working on further developing those ideas at this time,” Maria and Andrew Awes wrote in 2008.
As you know, last month I spoke with a History spokesperson who provided some information for attribution, some on background, and some in a nebulous space of ambiguous utility. Since I discovered from Wolter that they essentially lied to me, I’m not really feeling very interested in honoring the distinctions to protect their lies. Therefore, I’ll just let you know that the History spokesperson was taken aback when I mentioned that the Awes of America Unearthed were the same people involved in the earlier documentaries. Apparently, no one at the network had paid the least bit of attention to what was going on, and they had no idea that the documentaries and the new series were related, or that they were part of a consistent effort by Wolter and the Awes to promote a Templar-Sinclair-Holy Bloodline rewrite of American history. I asked how no one could know who was producing these shows, and the spokesperson said that 2009 was so many years ago that frankly there was no way to keep track or to remember.
So, Cabana’s probably right that he thought that some yokels from the sticks came up and pitched him a unique, hot idea out of the blue. He was also completely unaware his network had already done it, to high ratings, with the same people, twice before.
All of that explains why AETN has distanced itself from Wolter’s work. The company has no interest in the content of the show, only its ability to make money. The actual content is a liability so far as they are concerned, and the less content there is the happier they are. Take that as a lesson, kids: If you have an agenda to push, TV will let you do it because they won’t be paying enough attention to the content of their marketing vehicles to care.
Perhaps that’s why History is launching a new program starring a right wing conspiracy theorist who believes Obama is a “Kenyan-Muslim,” pharmaceuticals are designed to turn Americans into complacent zombies, and that Democrats are planning a violent purge/coup. History called this upstanding citizen, Eric “Mancow” Muller, a person who “embodies the values and the spirit of the heartland of America” in their press release. Thanks to you, A+E Television Networks, and your fellow media companies, that is now all too true.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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