The feud over programming on PBS took another vicious turn recently when a gay activist group, Out in Film, lambasted Texaco for dropping its sponsorship of the Great Performances series. Texaco’s pullout, coming just a few weeks before Great Performances airs an adaptation of gay writer David Leavitt’s 1986 novel, The Lost Language of Cranes, provoked Out in Film cofounder Scott Robbe to accuse Texaco of ”blatant homophobia.”
”A number of sources told us a Texaco executive came out of the screening [for Lost Language] and told another member of his party, ‘Well, we won’t be funding any more of this,”’ says Robbe. Texaco spokeswoman Anita Larsen denies that the company’s decision to end its two-year sponsorship had anything to do with Lost Language and says that the move was based on the general direction of Great Performances’ programming. ”We feel it is moving away from traditional and classical works, which have been Texaco’s programming niche.”
A PBS spokeswoman backs up the Texaco version. ”We knew they were going to stop funding,” she says. Meanwhile, PBS has no plans to alter the content of Performances and is looking for a corporate sponsor to fill Texaco’s $900,000 shoes.