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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 26 February, 2003, 13:56 GMT
Senator attacks hillbilly show
President George Bush with Senator Zell Miller
Miller (right, with George Bush) describes himself as a hillbilly
A US politician has attacked plans to make a TV show based on a hillbilly family moving into a Beverly Hills mansion.

Senator Zell Miller - a self-described hillbilly - lashed out at the CBS network, which devised the show, in a Senate speech on Tuesday.

He pleaded with them to call off plans to make The Real Beverly Hillbillies, which would be modelled on the hit 1960s sitcom.

The reality TV show would be based on a rural, lower-middle-class family which moves into a Beverly Hills mansion.

Mr Miller, a Democrat who represents the state of Georgia, called the programme a "minstrel show".

He said he doubted CBS chief executive Leslie Moonves would dare try such a spoof featuring a black or Latino family.

"I plead with you to call off your hillbilly hunt," Miller said.

"Make your big bucks some other way. Appeal to the best in America, not the worst. Give bigotry no sanction."

A CBS spokesman stressed that the show was barely in the planning stages.

"It's bizarre and unfortunate that he's formed a conclusion on a project that doesn't even exist yet," said spokesman Chris Ender.

"It is a programme in development that is being considered but has not yet been given a production commitment," he added.

"Not a stitch of film has been shot."

Tarpaper shacks

Mr Miller, who comes from the North Georgia mountains, has spoken out before when he felt others were using the term hillbilly in a disparaging way.

In 2001 he demanded an explanation from US Defence Minister Donald Rumsfeld over reports that Rumsfeld or his aides had used the term to describe some members of Congress.

Mr Miller also hit out at actress Jane Fonda when she told a United Nations group that parts of Georgia resemble a Third World country, with some people living in "tarpaper shacks".

Fonda later apologised.


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