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David Boies and Ted Olson, the lead attorneys in the successful legal challenge to the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8, have raised the threat of taking the MPAA to court over the “R” rating that the Classification and Ratings Administration has given to the documentary Bully. They are the latest voices to join the growing chorus criticizing the rating on the movie, which The Weinstein Co. plans to release March 30.
Bully became a lightning rod for controversy last month after The Weinstein Co. disputed the MPAA’s assignation of the “R” rating. Company president Harvey Weinstein insisted that children under 17 should be allowed access to watch the film’s chronicle of teenage bullying, but the MPAA refused to change the rating even after a personal appeal from Weinstein himself.
Speaking Tuesday night at The Paley Center for Media in New York at a screening co-hosted by Meryl Streep and tennis legend Billie Jean King, Boies said: “How ridiculous and unfair and damaging it is to have a film of this power and importance that is being censored by a rating system that has got simply no rational basis. You can kill kids, you can maim them, you can torture them and still get a PG-13 rating, but if they say a couple of bad words, you blame them.” Raising the possibility of taking the MPAA to court, he added, “ I hope, for heaven’s sake, that they find some rational basis before we have to sue them to revise the rating system.”
Olson, who served as President George W. Bush‘s solicitor general, said, “It’s important that everyone in America see Bully to talk about it, but in particular, the young people. So Dave was right, this is an irrational decision, and I’ve heard it defended as ‘[The MPAA] really can’t do anything about it because if we make an exception here, they’ll be all sorts of people lined up wanting to have exceptions made with respect to their movies.’ What a reason for not doing something. So they better shape up, or here we come.”
The evening also included appearances by Martha Stewart, former New York Giants great Tiki Barber, Mariel Hemingway, Tom Brokaw and Katie Couric.
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