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June 24, 2017

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PBS had to move fast after Willard arrest

BEVERLY HILLS, California--Public Broadcasting Service President Paula Kerger said Saturday that the decision to remove Fred Willard as narrator of the new public TV series "Market Warriors" had to be made quickly.

Willard's lewd conduct arrest last week prompted concern that the "unfortunate circumstances" would distract from the show that debuted last week, Kerger said.

PBS has high hopes for the new show, which is intended as a companion to its highest-rated series, "Antiques Roadshow."

Within 24 hours of his arrest, Willard was replaced by Mark Walberg, host of "Antiques Roadshow." Walberg's new voiceover was done in time for the second episode airing Monday, Kerger told a meeting of the Television Critics Association.

Willard's firing took place as PBS once again confronts efforts by Republican lawmakers in Washington to cut funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which provides 15 percent of public TV's budget.

Best known as the announcer in the film "Best in Show," Willard was arrested Wednesday night for investigation of committing a lewd act. He was taken into custody by police doing a routine check at a Hollywood adult theater.

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