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April 15, 2001 10:09pm
''Center'' Ads Too Racy for Major Newspapers
Source: Reuters/Variety
by: Tim Swanson

(HOLLYWOOD, CA) -- Sex sells, but you still need to advertise.

Two newspaper ads for upcoming picture ``The Center of the World'' directed by Wayne Wang were recently deemed too racy to run in the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, as well as several other regional newspapers.

Set in the Silicon Valley, ``Center'' focuses on the Internet gold rush and the sexually indulgent lives of young, wealthy men. It opens on Friday.

The film's distributor, Artisan Entertainment (news - external web site), has decided to release ``Center'' without a rating instead of the NC-17 rating the film received, as it did with ``Requiem for a Dream'' last year.

The first ad campaign displayed a nude woman on her back with one leg in the air and the other barely covering her crotch. A lollipop hovers above her gaping mouth. The copy read: ``Warning. Sex. Come Closer. Enter.'' Newspaper execs deemed the photo and text inappropriate for their readers.

The second installment showed the same woman in profile sucking on a lollipop with the same copy. Both papers rejected this ad specifically because of the sexually suggestive nature of the sucker.

Ultimately, the New York Times decided to run an ad with no photo and the text message only. The Los Angeles Times allowed a cropped photo from the first ad and asked Artisan to remove the text and the lollipop.

``Marketing an unrated movie, you run into more severe reservations from certain papers,'' explained Amorette Jones, Artisan's executive vice-president of worldwide marketing. ``Some R-rated movies have very provocative campaigns and papers will still run them. But unrated pictures become more of a target for censorship.''

The picture's Web site, however, makes the most of free speech, offering up a naked stripper in front of her laptop who engages users in decidedly smutty cyber chats. The site (http://www.center-of-the-world.com) warns that only Netizens 18 and over should enter.

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