Hollywood Execs Shift Programming After Newtown Shooting
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
For decades, Hollywood has been in the business of selling violence. But in the aftermath of Friday's school shooting in Connecticut, it's time to prove it's sensitive, too. NPR's Mandalit Del Barco reports that movie studios, TV networks and radio stations have shifted some programming and high profile premieres.
MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: Quentin Tarantino's new spaghetti western "Django Unchained" stars Jamie Foxx as a freed slave in the Deep South working with a bounty hunter to find his wife.
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BARCO: In typical Tarantino fashion, the film has tons of gunfire and a huge body count, which is one reason the Weinstein Company cancelled its red carpet premiere last night. A spokesperson for the company acknowledged it is a time of mourning for the families in Newtown, Connecticut. Two other movies, "Parental Guidance," and the Tom Cruz vehicle "Jack Reacher" also cancelled premiere parties this week.
In reaction to the shooting, radio stations dropped the new Ke$ha song "Die Young" from their playlists. Some television shows with violent content were preempted and cable network TLC delayed the start of its new reality series, "Best Funeral Ever" until January. But Time magazine TV critic, James Poniewozik, says simply postponing a show is weak.
JAMES PONIEWOZIK: If something is actually inappropriate, then we should treat it as if it's inappropriate at all times, not just inappropriate for two weeks and then suddenly becomes okay again.
BARCO: Poniewozik says there's a history of this sort of pull back. For example, after last summer's rampage at a movie theater in Colorado, Warner Bros. pulled the trailer and cut one violent scene from its movie "Gangster Squad."
PONIEWOZIK: Often, the reaction is simply more of a cooling off period than anything substantive. And I'm not sure that I would mistake it for any sort of long-term soul-searching on the part of TV networks or film studios.
BARCO: Several TV shows cancelled their comedic monologues and paid tribute to those killed in Connecticut. "Saturday Night Live" opened with a children's chorus singing "Silent Night," and the judges and contestants on NBC's "The Voice" held up cards with the victims names and sang.
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BARCO: This week, Showtime didn't announce any changes to its programs, but it did run disclaimers before its shows "Homeland" and "Dexter," which is about a serial killer. In light of the Newtown tragedy, the network advised viewers, the following program contains images that may be disturbing. Mandalit Del Barco, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.