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Malaysia Shuns Stiller’s ‘Zoolander’

SEAN YOONGSeptember 27, 2001

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) _ The Ben Stiller comedy ``Zoolander″ may never play on movie screens in Malaysia because its plot includes an assassination attempt on the country’s prime minister.

A spokeswoman for the Home Affairs Ministry’s Film Censorship Board said the plot was ``definitely unsuitable″ for Malaysian audiences. She said there was no official ban yet, but local distributors would be expected to exercise their ``discretion.″

Stiller stars as Derek Zoolander, a clueless male supermodel who’s brainwashed into killing the Malaysian leader for threatening the fashion industry with a plan to raise the minimum wage for labor in his country.

The movie opens Friday in the United States, but officials at Golden Screen Cinemas, Malaysia’s main multiplex operator, said the comedy spoof was not on its list of foreign films for screening, despite its popular star and bright commercial prospects.

``We know about this movie, and we don’t think we will be showing it,″ said a GSC distribution official, speaking on condition of anonymity. ``We did not even buy the rights to show the movie.″

The official would not say whether this was because of the film’s story line.

Political and religious sensitivities run high in Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim country. Film censors routinely snip scenes with sex and violence, cut off curse words and ban films with racy themes.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who has led Malaysia for 20 years, drew criticism from Jewish groups in the United States in 1994 by banning ``Schindler’s List,″ the Oscar-winning depiction of how a German industrialist saved hundreds of Polish Jews from the Nazi Holocaust.

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On The Net:

http://www.derekzoolander.com/

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