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June 11, 2001 04:32pm
Movie Pulled From Censoring Theater
Source: AP
by: Anthony Breznican

(LOS ANGELES, CA) -- Artisan Entertainment has withdrawn a print of the erotic film ``The Center of the World'' from a Cincinnati theater that censored part of it.

``Artisan cannot and will not condone exhibitors who make their own decisions to alter our product,'' spokesman Paul Pflug said. ``If they book an Artisan picture, we expect them to play it in its entirety.''

``The Center of the World,'' which is unrated, chronicles a Las Vegas weekend between a young millionaire and a stripper whose noncommittal sex takes several dark turns.

Someone at the Esquire Theater cut a five-second scene featuring a background stripper performing an obscene act.

Gary Goldman, who runs the Theater Management Corp. that owns the Esquire, said he had the film edited because he feared a backlash from the community.

``I found this act to be both degrading to women and most likely violative of community standards,'' he said. ``Obviously, I exercised bad judgment and should have chosen instead not to play the film.''

Director Wayne Wang has said he chose to release ``The Center of the World'' with no rating rather than accept an NC-17 label or cut explicit scenes to secure an R rating from the Motion Picture Association of America.

``I wanted to make an honest movie without being bothered by people telling me what I couldn't do,'' Wang said when the movie debuted in April.

Artisan learned about the unauthorized print on June 4, after a filmgoer reported to a studio employee that the scene was missing. The studio had someone screen the film and confirm the report.

Artisan ordered the theater to stop screening the film and withdrew the print.

``The Center of the World'' had played for 11 days of a scheduled two-week run. It's unclear when the film was edited.

Cincinnati has been a center of anti-pornography activism that prompted nationwide debate about censorship over the years.

Local leaders have fought Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt since the 1970s over obscenity laws, and a grand jury indicted the Contemporary Arts Center and its director in 1990 on charges of pandering obscenity with a Robert Mapplethorpe exhibit of erotic photographs. The museum and the director were acquitted

The Esquire is one of the few theaters in the Cincinnati area that will screen unrated films such as ``Chopper,'' ``Requiem for a Dream'' and ``Happiness.''

It's unclear whether employees there have improperly edited other movies. Goldman insisted this was the first time.

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