- - Sunday, January 1, 2012

Virginia alcohol regulators say the Discovery Channel’s “Moonshiners” television show is misleading viewers into thinking the state is tolerating illegal booze manufacturing and that they wouldn’t have participated if they knew how the episodes would turn out.

The television series is about people who brew their own moonshine and local authorities’ efforts to track them down. The show includes actual western Virginia residents and state agents.

Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control spokeswoman Kathleen Shaw told the Associated Press in an email Thursday that viewers have asked why the state is allowing a crime to take place. Miss Shaw said the show is a dramatization, and no illegal liquor is actually being produced.

“If illegal activity was actually taking place, the Virginia ABC Bureau of Law Enforcement would have taken action,” Miss Shaw wrote.

Earlier Thursday, the department issued a statement about the show.

“Virginia ABC agreed to participate in an informative piece that documents the history of moonshine and moonshine investigations in Virginia. Virginia ABC did not participate nor was aware of the false depiction of moonshine manufacturing, distribution and/or transportation in the filming, and would not have participated in the ‘documentary’ had it known of this portrayal,” the statement said.

Miss Shaw said the Discovery Channel had been asked to add a disclaimer, “but the request was overlooked.”

Messages left with a show publicist were not immediately returned.

Among other things, a Nov. 30 news release announcing the show’s premiere said that “Viewers will witness practices rarely, if ever, seen on television including the sacred rite of passage for a moonshiner — firing up the still for the first time.”

The release does not specify whether parts of the show are dramatized.

ABC’s ‘This Week’ gets behind-the-scenes change

After bringing back George Stephanopoulos to replace Christiane Amanpour on Sunday’s “This Week” political talk show, ABC is making a change behind the scenes as well.

The network’s news president, Ben Sherwood, said Friday that Jon Banner will replace Rick Kaplan as the show’s executive producer. Mr. Banner was a longtime producer of “World News” before taking on a wider role recently at ABC News.

Mr. Sherwood said Mr. Kaplan will produce ABC’s New Hampshire primary and offer a “critical voice” in news and election coverage later.

“This Week” has been sinking in the ratings behind NBC and CBS, and Mr. Stephanopoulos agreed to come back to the show while continuing as co-anchor of “Good Morning America” during the week.

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