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Movie Rating Board Sticks to X-Rating for ‘Scandal’ Flick

April 7, 1989

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The nation’s movie rating board has stuck to the X rating slapped on ″Scandal,″ about the 1960s Profumo affair that toppled a British government, despite appeals from the moviemaker.

The Motion Picture Association of America’s appeals board voted Thursday in New York to sustain the X rating, an action viewed as box office poison because few theaters show such films and advertisements are difficult to place.

″Scandal″ distributor Miramax Films recruited First Amendment attorney Martin Garbus to state its case.

Garbus conceded ″Scandal″ was a sexy film, but argued that if British audiences could see it so should American moviegoers.

The appeals board voted 8-7 to retain the X rating. A two-thirds vote of the appeals board is required to overturn an MPAA rating.

Miramax lawyer Dan Zinkin said the close vote was unusual, noting the board is usually unanimous. He suspected the highly erotic content in an orgy scene guided those voting for X.

The MPAA doesn’t disclose reasons for its rating decisions.

Miramax must now decide whether to keep the X rating, reject it and go out unrated, or cut the offending orgy scene and resubmit it to the MPAA.

Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of the film company, said only that Miramax was ″currently examining legal options and consulting with their attorneys.″

″Scandal″ recreates the torrid Profumo affair that brought down the conservative government of Harold Macmillan in 1963.

The movie, based on the Phillip Knightley and Carolyn Kennedy book called ″An Affair of State: The Profumo Case and the Framing of Stephen Ward,″ features philandering politicians, call girls, Soviet spies and the sex party.

The story surrounds the liaisons between call girl Christine Keeler, war minister John Profumo and Soviet operative Eugene Ivanov.

British critics loved the movie, but politicians condemned it for raking up memories of the affair that forced a minister to resign, caused Ivanov’s recall and led to the suicide of Ward, a prominent osteopath.

The movie stars Joanne Whalley-Kilmer as Ms. Keeler, John Hurt as Ward, Ian McKellen as Profumo and Britt Ekland as Mariella Novotny, a brothel keeper.

Roy Hattersley, deputy leader of the opposition Labor Party, said the movie ″seems to be a disgrace to our society.″ But London’s Daily Mail praised the picture.

″This account of the Profumo affair is the most accomplished British commercial film in a long time - fluent, engrossing, racing along the story capsuled long ago in that headline ″The Minister, The Model and The Russian Spy,‴ the Daily Mail said.

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