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Joseph Gordon-Levitt's 'Don Jon' Targeted by Italian American Watchdog Group

Don Jon Film Still - H 2013
Relativity Media

The director-actor plays a pornography-addicted "Jersey Shore" type in the film, which is accused of promoting "racist stereotypes."

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is being taken to task by the Italian American One Voice Coalition, which is accusing his Don Jon of promoting "racist stereotypes."

The organization is criticizing Gordon-Levitt's directorial debut for allegedly "stereotyping and denigrating" both Italian Americans and Jews in its character portrayals. In a press release sent Monday, the Italian American One Voice Coalition notes that Gordon-Levitt's parents had founded a once-famous Jewish national social justice organization.

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"Here we go again with the same shop-worn, racist stereotypes of Italian Americans in movies," said organization founder Dr. Emanuele "Manny" Alfano. "It never ends. Levitt, himself the son of proud parents who once founded the Jewish Progressive Alliance and fought for social justice causes, should be ashamed of himself for the negative portrayal of Italians and Jews in his movie."

Don Jon, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and opened theatrically Friday, finds Gordon-Levitt playing Jon Martello, a porn-addicted Jersey Shore-type character. Scarlett Johansson also stars as his love interest, Barbara Sugarman: a big-haired, Jerseylicious-like Jewish female.

Tony Danza and Glenne Headly star as Gordon-Levitt's parents.

"Levitt, much like his pornography-addicted character, needs an intervention and should go into serious therapy for his ethnic denigration of Italian Americans," said Alfano. "Levitt ought to quit now, take this trite garbage out of movie theaters and donate his profits to charity."

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Don Jon debuted to $9 million from 2,422 locations (rival studios have it opening slightly lower with $8.8 million). The film earned a problematic C+ CinemaScore despite generally strong reviews.

Relativity acquired U.S. rights to the pic for $4 million following its Sundance unveiling and committed to a $27 million marketing spend. The film, which had to be toned down in order to receive an R-rating, was financed and produced by Voltage Pictures for $5 million to $6 million.

"We're really pleased. It's a strong gross, and we want to be in the Joseph Gordon-Levitt business," said Relativity distribution chief Kyle Davies. "We think the picture will play well. You can't have reviews this strong without there being a connection to an audience."