A&E has not been having an easy time with its docuseries centered around the KKK. The show garnered plenty of negative attention for its subject matter, which led A&E to cancel the show before it even premiered. Previous claims were made that producers paid their subjects to be in the documentary, but the story doesn't end there. Those subjects are coming forward and claiming that the producers were also fabricating stories and relationships to fit the story of the documentary.
Variety launched its own investigation into the cancellation of Escaping the KKK and interviewed over two dozen individuals who were involved with both the KKK and the docuseries. In addition to being paid to be a part of the series, some KKK leaders claim that they were paid hundreds of dollars (some up to 600) each day of filming to fabricate the events of their own lives into fitting the narrative of the docuseries.
These KKK leaders also alleged that the producers promised that _Escaping the KKK _would capture the true lives of those in the organization; a promise that was apparently not delivered. Instead, they were allegedly paid to misrepresent their own identity and relationships. The cast was also allegedly given pre-scripted story material to read on film, told what to say, and were encouraged not to file taxes on cash payments they'd been receiving as compensation.
According to Richard Nichols, a KKK member who was featured in the documentary series, the production team even reportedly paid for materials to build and burn wooden crosses and swastikas. Nichols claims that the production pushed for the ceremonies, and actually held two for re-shooting purposes. Nichols goes on to tell Variety of a number of his scenes that were allegedly fabricated by the production team, such as his relationship with a potential recruit (who himself claims he never wanted to join, but was willing to accept $200 dollars a day to pretend he was), and a heated confrontation with an anti-hate activist in his home.
Four different Klan groups across the country were filmed, and each reports similar circumstances to Nichols'. Some participants claimed entire characters in their lives were made up for the documentary series.
When asked to comment on the situation, A&E declined to comment on the specifics, and instead released a statement. Said statement, seen below, revealed that the network would launch an independent investigation into the production.
We take these allegations very seriously and in partnership with A&E we will be looking into them fully. We have been told that participants in the series have received threats and coerced into speaking out against the authenticity of the show.
It's unknown how much A&E, who is already being called a hypocrite by Scientologists, knew was really going on within production. More is bound to come out about the story, but until then, the production of Escaping the KKK is bound to be one for the history books.