The producers of A&E’s reality hit “Duck Dynasty” have been placed on leave from their company in a pending audit of the company’s finances, TheWrap has learned.
Scott and Deirdre Gurney, the husband-and-wife team whose Gurney Productions was bought by ITV America in 2012, have been placed on a leave of absence while the company sorts through internal financial documents related to production billing, according to a source close to the situation.
ITV has temporarily appointed Craig Armstrong, a reality veteran who co-founded 5×5 Media, to run Gurney Productions until the matter can be resolved.
In a note to staff obtained by TheWrap, Armstrong wrote that the Gurney board had placed the Gurneys on “a short, temporary leave of absence.
“Due to the nature of this leave of absence,” he added, “we can not share all the specific details. What I can tell you is that Gurney Productions is a very important part of the ITV family and we are committed to help keep things running smoothly until the situation with Scott and Deirdre is resolved.”
The investigation into “several items” is ongoing, Armstrong told staffers, and “we may be asking some of you to sit down with me and legal counsel to answer some questions,” Armstrong wrote.
He also offered a warning that “it is unlawful to circumvent the new management team or discuss internal operations with Scott and Deirdre,” he wrote.
A spokeswoman for Gurney issued a statement late Monday saying:
“The board of Gurney Productions is currently in discussion with Scott and Deirdre Gurney about future arrangements with them. Craig Armstrong has been appointed interim CEO of Gurney Productions. Craig is an Emmy award-winning producer whose credits include ‘King of the Nerds’ for TBS, CBS’s ‘Survivor,’ and ABC’s ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’ and ‘Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.’ Craig, along with his producing partner Rick Ringbakk, is co-founder and co-CEO of 5×5 Media, which will continue to operate as before.”
Several attempts to reach the Gurneys at their office were unsuccessful.
Gurney Productions has produced hundreds of hours of reality TV, a large quantity of which is in the outdoor genre. But “Duck Dynasty” is by far their biggest hit. As an actor, Scott Gurney also appeared in feature films, including “The Fluffer,” a 2001 movie about a young man who becomes involved in the gay-for-pay porn business.
Last month, A&E announced that “Duck Dynasty,” one of the biggest reality shows in cable TV history, would end after the current season. That announcement appears unrelated to the Gurneys’ troubles.