Willard firing avoids 'distraction': PBS

Fred Willard, left, and Larry Miller flash the crowd on red carpet at Roy Thomson Hall for film...

Fred Willard, left, and Larry Miller flash the crowd on red carpet at Roy Thomson Hall for film festival gala screening of " For Your Consideration (Stan Behal/QMI Agency)

Bill Harris, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:38 PM ET

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIF. - PBS president Paula Kerger said at the Television Critics Association tour that Fred Willard was turfed from his narrating duties on Market Warriors because she didn'št want his recent "unfortunate" situation to become "a distraction."

Uh, too late.

Willard, a well-known veteran comedic actor, was arrested last Wednesday after police in Hollywood alleged they found him in a movie theatre with his penis exposed and in his hand.

Through his lawyer, the 72-year-old Willard has claimed he is innocent of lewd conduct.

Reports now suggest he may be eligible for a "diversion program," which would involve counselling rather than a formal charge.

Willard had been narrating the PBS series Market Warriors, which debuted last week.

Moving forward, Antiques Roadshow narrator Mark L. Walberg (not to be confused with actor Mark Wahlberg) will take over from Willard on Market Warriors.

"We actually are in production with that series," Kerger said Saturday. "We had to move fast because we'šre taping. We asked Mark to do both."

PBS really didn't have a choice, if it wanted to avoid Market Warriors becoming a punch-line, just as it is trying to establish itself. Kerger said Market Warriors will air in its regularly scheduled time on Monday, with Walberg doing the voice-overs.


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