Sunday, April 30, 2000

Showtime cuts screen time for 'Dirty Pictures' to get R

        Showtime has cut the screen time for Robert Mapplethorpe's seven homoerotic photographs from Dirty Pictures, the May 27 movie about the 1990 Contemporary Arts Center indictments and trial, to avoid a NC-17 rating.

        Dirty Pictures, starring James Woods as former CAC Director Dennis Barrie, has been rated R (no children under 17 without a parent or guardian) by the Motion Picture Association of America.

        The film premieres 9 p.m. May 27 on the premium movie channel. Showtime's contracts with some cable systems ban programs rated NC-17 (no children) from prime time, according to Variety.

        Mr. Barrie and the CAC were indicted on April 7, 1990, for pandering obscenity and illegal use of a child in nudity-related material for exhibiting Mr. Mapplethorpe's show, The Perfect Moment. @subHed:Photos seen clearly @text:

        All 175 photos from the exhibit, including the seven named in the indictment, were used in filming Dirty Pictures last fall in Toronto.

        The CAC and Mr. Barrie were acquitted on all charges in Hamilton County Municipal Court in October 1990.

        Showtime President Jerry Offsay told Variety that all seven photos will be seen “clearly and distinctly” in the film. But the number of times, and the duration, have been edited, he told the trade publication.

        From the very inception, Showtime executives agreed with producer Michael Manheim (Roe v. Wade) that the seven photos would be shown in the film. One shows a man urinating in another man's mouth; two others show children exposing their genitals.

        “Some of these pictures are shocking, no question about it. The vast majority of the audience may find them difficult to look at. I understand that. I'm not sort of naive thinking that nobody will react to these images,” Mr. Manheim says.

        “But that's not what this is about. It's about free speech.”

        During the Television Critics Association meetings in January in Pasadena, Calif., Mr. Offsay said: “The First Amendment is our lifeblood. It's our business. It's not our job to make people feel comfortable. It's our job to do what we think is right and to protect freedom of expression.”

        Dirty Pictures also stars Craig T. Nelson (Coach) as Hamilton County Sheriff Simon Leis, and Diana Scarwid (Pretty Baby, Silkwood) as Diane, Mr. Barrie's wife at the time. Also depicted are Cincinnati attorneys Marc D. Mezibov and H. Louis Sirkin; Hamilton County assistant prosecutors Frank H. Prouty Jr. and Melanie Reising; Judge David Albanese; Citizens for Community Values President Monty Lobb; and the Barries' sons, Kevin and Ian.

        Mr. Offsay has acknowledged that Showtime could lose subscribers because of the graphic film.

        “People who don't want to watch Dirty Pictures, or don't like the art, don't have to look at it,” Mr. Offsay said.

        “We don't want to impose our point of view on them, and we don't want them to impose their standards on us. And ultimately they may disconnect their Showtime subscription. That's their vote.”


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