Make 'Muslim' films at your own risk

Comedian Albert Brooks was not amused when his latest venture was passed over by studio executives.

By MIRIAM SHAVIV
October 3, 2005 19:38
2 minute read.

Based on the latest decision taken by Sony studios, it appears fear has already begun to play a major role in which films certain studios are willing to produce. Comedian Albert Brooks was not amused when his latest venture was passed over by studio executives. The title of film, Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World, apparently stirred up a panic. According to Brooks, Sony became so concerned that reprisals could result from merely using the word 'Muslim' in the title, that it decided not to release the picture. That forced the comedian to find a new distributor for a movie that pokes fun at American ignorance of the Muslim world. "Fear is playing a major part in Hollywood production," Brooks said in an interview with Reuters. Brooks says this sort of trepidation is largely a response to the recent Newsweek scandal, in which a short item reporting that a Koran was flushed down a toilet by guards at Guantanamo Bay was published and later retracted after riots and fury broke out in the Muslim world. Sony said doubts about the title were only part of much larger problems, but other sources close to the company claim executives simply did not find the movie funny. Sony released an official statement saying, "To those looking for truth in this manufactured controversy, here it is: We made our decision to pass on Brooks' movie the same way we did to accept Fahrenheit 9/ll on the merits, with neither fear nor favor." In Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World, Brooks plays a comedian sent by the State Department to India and Pakistan with a couple of minders to find out what makes Muslims laugh, so everyone can get along better in the post-9/11 world. Brooks says most of the jokes in the movie are aimed at Americans and there are no religious references at all. Warner Independent has stepped in to save the film and has plans to release it in January. According to Warner, they'll be sticking with the original title.


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