Culture

R. Kelly Song Reportedly Removed by ABC: 'I Believe I Can Fly' Cut From 'Schooled' Premiere, Report Says

R. Kelly’s loss of support may be extending beyond the singer’s former fans and celebrity counterparts. ABC reportedly removed Kelly’s award-winning song, “I Believe I Can Fly,” from the pilot episode of the network’s newest series, Schooled, which premiered Wednesday night.

According to TVLine, the song was featured in the original pilot, which critics saw ahead of the show’s premiere. It was included in a scene in which star Bryan Callen’s character, Coach Mellor, explained the influence Michael Jordan had during the 1990s to the school’s basketball team. The coach reminisced on Kelly’s 1998 hit, which was featured on the Space Jam soundtrack, while the song played in the background during basketball scenes.

NBA legend Jordan starred in the cartoon classic. The movie’s headlining track, “I Believe I Can Fly,” written by Kelly, went on to become the R&B singer’s biggest song, landing him numerous accolades, including three Grammy Awards.

However, the song is believed to have been pulled by ABC ahead of The Goldberg’s spinoff premiere. 

ABC told Newsweek via email the network wouldn't be commenting on the situation, but noted that the episode was originally screened for critics as "a work in progress and the song was eventually replaced with a new one for the final version of the episode."

The song change comes amid public outrage against Kelly, who was the focus of Lifetime’s incredibly disturbing docuseries, Surviving R. Kelly. The six-part special, which aired for three nights on the network, centered on Kelly’s history of sexual, physical and mental abuse of young women and girls throughout the height of his career and to current day. The program also included interviews of women accusing Kelly of harming them, along with various relatives and members of his inner-circle who claimed to have witnessed Kelly’s abuse and manipulation of women.

While the #MuteRKelly campaign has been rallying against the 52-year-old long before Lifetime’s series aired—it first launched after Buzzfeed reported Kelly was allegedly holding women in a sex cult against their free will in 2017—a number of artists and Kelly’s former collaborators have since joined in criticism of the singer’s alleged sexual misconduct.

Despite the attention, which has even sparked an investigation on Kelly by Fulton County DA’s Office in Georgia, according to CNN, Kelly’s label, RCA Records, has yet to comment on the allegations or heed to fans’ call to drop him from the label. A petition launched by Color of Change requesting RCA to abolish Kelly’s contract with the label and its parent company, Sony, has more than 80,000 signatures.

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