A federal manhunt couldn't do it. Turns out the only thing that could keep Duane Chapman down is the Dog himself.
A&E has suspended production on its hit reality series Dog the Bounty Hunter in light of some—to put it mildly—racially insensitive remarks its star looks to have made during a phone conversation with his son Tucker, a recording of which was duly posted online by the National Enquirer.
"We take this matter very seriously," A&E, which lent its full support to Chapman while kidnapping charges were pending against him in Mexico, said in a statement Wednesday. "Pending an investigation, we have suspended production on the series. When the inquiry is concluded we will take appropriate action."
Here are some snippets from the understandably controversial chat, in which Chapman—a Hawaii-based bail bondsman by trade—discusses with his son the repercussions of having a black person around while he and his team use the N-word (Tucker's girlfriend, Monique Shinnery, is black):
"I'm not taking a chance...not because she's black but because we use the word n---er sometimes here. I'm not going to take any chance ever in life of losing everything I've worked for 30 years because some drunken n---er heard us say n---er and turned us into the Enquirer magazine...I'm not taking that chance at all never in life. Never..."
Chapman has already tried to make things right, releasing a statement on Wednesday in which he says that it was the character of his son's girlfriend that he objected to, not the color of her skin.
"I have the utmost respect and aloha for black people who have suffered so much due to racial discrimination and acts of hatred," Chapman said. "I did not mean to add yet another slap in the face to an entire race of people who have brought so many gifts to this world. I am ashamed of myself and I pledge to do whatever I can to repair this damage I have caused.
"My sincerest, heartfelt apologies go out to every person I have offended for my regrettable use of very inappropriate language," he continued. "I am deeply disappointed in myself for speaking out of anger to my son and using such a hateful term in a private phone conversation.
"I was disappointed in his choice of a friend, not due to her race, but her character. However, I should have never used that term."
Chapman also said that he's been in touch with his spiritual adviser, Rev. Tim Storey, who is black, and that he'd like to meet with other black leaders.
"I know that all of my fans are deeply disappointed in me, as well, as I have tried to be a model for doing the right thing," he added. "I did not do the right thing this time, and hope you will forgive me."
The expletive and slur-laced conversation has already provoked outrage from civil rights activists, including the Congress for Racial Equality chairman Roy Innis, who told the Enquirer that Chapman "should not have a show."
"He needs to answer for his behavior," Innis said. "When someone gets the opportunity to use the airwaves, he becomes a role model, whether he likes it or not. Dog Chapman should not be in that position, posing as a good guy."
Chapman's reality series, in which he and sons Leland and Duane Lee, as well as his wife Beth and unrelated pal Tim Chapman go after on-the-run criminals, is A&E's top-rated series. Dog the Bounty Hunter premiered in 2004, buoyed largely in part by the footage Chapman's team shot while hunting convicted rapist Andrew Luster down in Mexico.
They caught up with Luster in June 2003, after which the felon was sentenced to more than 100 years in jail, but Chapman was later charged with deprivation of liberty in Guadalajara.
All of the charges were dismissed in July after a Mexican court determined that the case's statute of limitations had expired. However, U.S. authorities left a $300,000 bond in effect, with a federal prosecutor asking for more time to evaluate the case.