That happened quickly: just one day after the announcement of a new reality format with the controversial singer Michael Wendler, RTLzwei canceled the show.
"The planned docu-soap with Michael Wendler and Laura Müller will not be produced and broadcast for RTLzwei," said the private broadcaster based in Grünwald near Munich. He explained that he "saw the vehemence of the reactions" and took the voices of his audience seriously. The broadcaster apologized.
The supposed television comeback of the pop singer ("Egal"), who had catapulted himself into TV-off with statements about the corona pandemic, lasted only one day. RTLzwei announced on Tuesday that it wanted to bring Wendler back to the screens.
A docu-soap was planned about the singer and his wife Laura, who is pregnant - headline: "Michael Wendler's baby happiness". Viewers should get "intimate insights into the life of Michael and his Laura". The birth itself was intended as the crowning "relay highlight". The broadcast is planned for this year, it said. First.
Carmen Geiss is shocked
However, the announcement promptly met with widespread criticism and sharp counter-reactions. They reached into the staff, which is part of the inventory at RTLzwei. Carmen Geiss, known from the RTLzwei program "The Geissens – A Terribly Glamorous Family" wrote on Instagram that it was a "shock message". "Conspiracy ideological statements are not our style," wrote Geiss. "Even if it should result in the Geissens stopping at RTL 2!"
The streaming service RTL explained that the Wendler program would be available on the portal “neither before nor after the TV broadcast”. The RTL Group is the main shareholder of RTLzwei with 35.9 percent.
Wendler, previously often booked protagonist for reality formats such as jungle camp or "Celebrity Big Brother", has been the most scandalous figure since 2020 at the latest. At that time, he triggered a scandal with a video on Corona policy in Germany because he accused the federal government of “gross and serious violations of the constitution”. The broadcaster RTL, for which he was a juror in the casting show "Deutschland sucht den Superstar", then called him a conspiracy theorist and distanced himself.
After another statement by Wendler about Germany as a "concentration camp", he was then completely cut out of episodes of the casting format that had already been shot. Allegedly, "KZ" was an abbreviation for "crisis center," he later claimed. In the general public, however, the letters were understood as a synonym for the concentration camps of the National Socialists. After that, he played no role in major television productions.
On the Telegram platform, however, Wendler repeatedly shared posts with false claims and extreme content such as the QAnon conspiracy theory. Regarding the corona pandemic, which he described as a "fake pandemic", he shared a post by another user entitled "Vaccination - the final solution to the human question" - an allusion to the National Socialist policy of annihilation against Jews. He also shared slogans like "vaccination sets you free" on Telegram. Wendler himself repeatedly described the corona vaccination as a “poison injection”.
The Wendler is surprised by the "vehemence"
When the wave of criticism of the new RTLzwei job reared up, Wendler tried to appease himself. A statement was published on Wednesday night on his wife Laura's Instagram channel. He was surprised by the "vehemence," it said. "First of all, I would like to make it clear that I am not and never have been a racist or anti-Semite!" He also regrets "many" of his statements today. Exactly which ones remained unclear at first. But Wendler asked for “a chance”.
RTLzwei obviously didn't want to give it to him anymore. In the announcement of the baby show, the broadcaster made it clear that it had always distanced itself from "extremism of all kinds" and stood for open-mindedness and tolerance. "It is important to us to avoid even the appearance that the broadcaster is willing to make cuts here," the statement said. Therefore the project is now stopped. First "Bild.de" had reported.