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Hbo and Polygamy: What a great fit!


Polygamy
Originally uploaded by _Faith.

February 9, 2006 -- HBO's new polygamy drama, "Big Love," doesn't premiere until March 12, but it's already stirring up big trouble in Utah.

The Tom Hanks-produced series stars Bill Paxton as a Viagra-popping Mormon with three wives, three houses and more problems than Tony Soprano. Chloe Sevigny and Jeanne Tripplehorn have career-saving roles as wives No. 1 and 2, respectively, with Ginnifer Goodwin as No. 3.

Although Paxton's character isn't affiliated with mainstream Mormonism, viewers could be forgiven for assuming so - a mistake that members of the faith, which has lately been making inroads into mainstream America, desperately want to avoid.

"Polygamy was officially discontinued in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints [LDS] in 1890," church spokeswoman Kim Farah said in a statement. "Those groups which continue the practice in Utah and elsewhere have no association [with us] . . . and most of their practitioners have never been among our members . . . It will be regrettable if this program, by making polygamy the subject of entertainment, minimizes the seriousness of that problem."

The church even asked that a disclaimer be included at the beginning of each episode, emphasizing that Paxton's character isn't affiliated with the Latter-Day Saints.

An HBO spokesperson said "Big Love" co-creators Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer ultimately decided to add the following note at the end of the first episode:

"According to a joint report issued by the Utah and Arizona attorney general's offices, July 2005, 'approximately 20,000 to 40,000 or more people currently practice polygamy in the United States.' The Mormon Church officially banned the practice of polygamy in 1890."

But Utah activist Vicky Prunty, who escaped a polygamist marriage and is now executive director of Tapestry Against Polygamy, hopes "Big Love" will further expose what she calls the church's "secret shame."

"They might not practice polygamy, but they still believe in it," she said. "They only outlawed it so that Utah could get statehood. The LDS church can try to pretend that it doesn't exist, but the truth will always rear its ugly head. Thanks to this show, the church leaders are up there on the hill shaking a bit, and that gives me some pleasure."

"We want the LDS people to know we bear them no ill will or disrespect," assures Olsen. "Everyone else we just ask to withhold judgment until they've seen the damn thing."

From the NYPost

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