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TCA press tour: Ted Haggard promotes latest HBO doc

January 9, 2009 |  4:44 pm

Pastor Ted met the press in Universal City today and left behind even more questions than when he walked onstage.

You remember Ted Haggard, the noted evangelical minister who was driven from his post two years ago following revelations that he used crystal meth and consorted with a male prostitute. His life since then forms the basis of "The Trials of Ted Haggard," an HBO documentary coming Jan. 29th from Alexandra Pelosi, who captured Haggard a few years ago at the height of his career in the film "Friends of God."

Haggard explained that he'd avoided the press since the scandal because he was muzzled by nondisclosure agreements with his church, which had continued paying his salary and insurance after he exited his post. He was recently released from those agreements, he said. In a 25-minute press conference, reporters at the TV press tour naturally seemed more curious about the man than about the new documentary.

Appearing with his wife Gayle and two grown children, Haggard appeared contrite — and often maddeningly nonspecific.  Prior to the scandal, he had preached against homosexuality. More recently, a church official suggested that therapy had made Haggard completely heterosexual. Haggard blurred the issue when asked at the press session: "I think sexuality is confusing and complex," he said.

You don't say.

He and his wife offered few details of their relationship since the scandal broke, although Gayle Haggard said, "There wasn't a question in my mind that I love this man. . . . Our marriage was strong."

As for the drug allegations, Haggard portrayed himself as a neophyte. "I grew up in a sheltered and protective way, and I'm not sure what I bought. . . . I am so grateful I'm not a drug addict."

Haggard also had a message for the male prostitute who exposed his secret life. "I apologized to Mike Jones," he said. "For the relationship we developed. It was a very bad mistake on my part."

One reporter wondered how, given his status as a disgraced former pastor, Haggard should be addressed these days. "You can call me Ted," said Haggard, who then made a pitch for his new life and career. "I also sell life insurance, if you need some."

— Scott Collins

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