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Big Disclaimer for ‘Big Love’

No way HBO’s Utah polygamists are Mormons!

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Last week, HBO made frantic calls to magazine editors who were ready to publish articles about Big Love, its new series about Utah polygamists that premieres March 12, following The Sopranos. The urgent message: The show’s central characters—Bill Paxton and his three wives, Chloë Sevigny, Jeanne Tripplehorn, and Ginnifer Goodwin—are definitely not Mormons! So don’t say they are! “The Mormon church officially banned the practice of polygamy in 1890,” HBO emphasized, repeating a disclaimer that will run after every episode. HBO spokesman Quentin Schaffer explains that while “some polygamists identify as Mormons,” the church “doesn’t recognize them.” Schaffer learned this late last summer when HBO showed the church episodes of the Tom Hanks–produced series. “The church said, ‘We prefer you didn’t air it, but we just hope it won’t confuse people.’ ” Anti-polygamy activists like Lorna Craig aren’t buying it. She says the show “is definitely about Mormon offshoot cults” and worries about a sympathetic portrayal of a polygamist. Schaffer says it’s “a show about a guy and his three wives . . . an interesting take on marriage and relationships.”


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