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PBS Boss: Fred Willard Replaced At Market Warriors Over Worries Actor's Arrest Would Cause 'Distraction'

Fred Willard, Mark L. Walberg -- Getty ImagesFred Willard, Mark L. Walberg -- Getty Images

A top boss for PBS explained that Fred Willard was axed from his gig as the narrator of "Market Warriors" over fears his arrest last week on suspicion of lewd conduct would become a "distraction."

"At the end of the week, when it became known, we actually realized that we needed to move fast because we're taping now," PBS President and Chief Executive Officer Paula Kerger told reporters on Saturday morning at the Television Critics Association summer session in Beverly Hills.

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"It's a new series and our concern really is that his circumstance would become a distraction for the series, which we're hoping will have an ongoing presence on public television," Kerger added.

"Market Warriors," which airs Mondays at 9 PM on PBS, follows four "pickers" who hit up flea markets and antique shows across the country, nabbing finds they turn around and sell at auction.

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Replacing Willard as narrator of the show is TV host Mark Walberg, who MCs PBS' companion show, "Antique Roadshow."

"We talked to him and we decided that what we would do is bring Mark Walberg, who is hosting 'Antique Roadshow,'" Kerger said. "'Market Warriors' was intended as sort of a series to run in parallel with 'Antique Roadshow' and we'd ask Mark to do both. It actually links the two shows together."

On Friday, according to the Associated Press, the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office said Willard's case was eligible for a diversion program.

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The program would keep the actor from being charged with lewd conduct if he undergoes a counseling course.

Earlier in the week, Willard, 72, was arrested and booked at the police station in Hollywood on suspicion of committing a lewd act in public.

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-- Jolie Lash

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