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Fox News cuts LL Cool J from Sarah Palin's new show after he says he didn't agree to participate [updated]

March 31, 2010 |  8:32 am

The announcement by Fox News on Tuesday that LL Cool J would be featured in the debut episode of a new show hosted by Sarah Palin provoked surprise among many – including, apparently, the rapper himself, who wrote on his Twitter account late Tuesday that he had not participated in the show.

“Fox lifted an old interview I gave in 2008 to someone else & are misrepresenting to the public in order to promote Sarah Palins Show,” he tweeted. “WOW.”

Fox News said the program, “Real American Stories,” included an interview the performer gave to the network as part of an online project of the same name that launched during the 2008 election. But producers are now excising his interview from the show after LL Cool J, whose real name is James Todd Smith, raised objections.

"'Real American Stories' features uplifting tales about overcoming adversity and we believe Mr. Smith’s interview fit that criteria," said a spokeswoman for the network. "However, as it appears that Mr. Smith does not want to be associated with a program that could serve as an inspiration to others, we are cutting his interview from the special and wish him the best with his fledgling acting career."

[Updated at 9:24 a.m.: LL Cool J did not immediately respond to requests for comment made through his Twitter account or his manager. On Wednesday morning, while the news that Fox had cut him from the show was breaking, the star of "NCIS: Los Angeles" tweeted that "Nobody can bring you peace but yourself."] 

The “Real American Stories” website is still up, now as an extension of the television series. The site currently includes profiles of Americans, including some celebrities, who share their lessons about fulfilling their dreams and helping others. (The LL Cool J interview cannot currently be found on the site.)

The cable show hosted by Palin is being cast as program in the same vein, focused on inspirational people who have overcome obstacles in life. The premiere episode, which airs Thursday at 7 p.m. PDT, is set to feature a piece about a Marine who sacrificed his life for his fellow soldiers, and a story about a stockbroker who helps underprivileged youth pay for college.

“As Americans, we aspire to greatness,” Palin says in a promo for the show. “When we dream, we dream big. We reach out, we pick each other up. We pride ourselves on our make up and our character.”

In its original release about the show, Fox News said LL Cool J and former General Electric Chief Executive Jack Welch would be featured in the first episode, talking about making it in America as part of a segment called “In Their Own Words.” The network did not specify when the interviews were conducted.

Palin serves as host of the program and conducted some studio interviews, a role that is part of her larger deal as a regular contributor to Fox News. The premiere episode of “Real American Stories” is re-airing Sunday, but does not yet have a regular time slot.

[Updated at 9:24 a.m.: None of the well-known figures who will be featured on the show, including country music star Toby Keith, were interviewed by Palin. But the former Alaska governor did conduct interviews before a live studio audience with people with stories of inspiration, such as a girl who risked her life to save a stranger.]

[Updated at 1:54 p.m.: A representative for LL Cool J said the performer was given no notice that his interview was going to be included in Palin’s show. “The show had planned to use an interview from 2008 that was being repurposed without LL’s permission,” said Keesha Johnson, a spokeswoman for the rapper. “This statement is not a reflection of any feelings LL has toward Fox News or Ms. Palin, whom he has never met, rather a clarification of what we have seen published in the media.”

The network maintained it had a right to use the footage. “Fox News did not commit to restrictions on its interview with Mr. Smith, so therefore the network did not need his permission to use the interview in this program,” said Bill Shine, executive vice president for programming.]

-- Matea Gold

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