Back in the '30s when Hollywood first began to feel the pressure for morality in the movies, the Catholic Church's Legion of Decency was in on the creation of what has now evolved into the rating system of the Motion Picture Assn. of America.
Now, 60 years later, a painting that is virtually synonymous with the Vatican City headquarters of the Catholic Church in Rome, has been found to be offensive by the modern-day decision makers at the headquarters of the Motion Picture Assn. of America in Sherman Oaks.
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday November 20, 1993 Home Edition Calendar Part F Page 8 Column 1 Entertainment Desk 1 inches; 29 words Type of Material: Correction
Trailer company-- Ikon Creative Services of Culver City created the trailer for MGM's "Six Degrees of Separation," but it did not create the trailer for "Death Becomes Her," as reported in Friday's Calendar.
Culver City-based Ikon Creative Services said a scene in a trailer it designed for MGM's upcoming film "Six Degrees of Separation" was considered by the MPAA to be unacceptable for viewing by all audiences. That scene showed a replica of Michelangelo's "Creation of Adam," including its frontal view of Adam's genitals. If MGM chose to keep that scene in, then the trailer could be shown only with films that are R-rated. Sources said the studio did not want to delay or narrow the scope of its advertising campaign, so it chose to delete the scene. MGM refused to comment.
The "rating" of the trailer was a separate issue from the R rating given to the film itself. "Six Degrees," a comedy based on the hit stage play by John Guare, has an R rating due to strong language and frontal nudity of a live actor (in addition to the painting).
"When we first heard about it, naturally we thought it was some kind of joke," said Ikon's Dean M. Blagg. "Would the MPAA say the Vatican is for mature audiences only?"
What made the situation even more ironic for Ikon was that in 1992 it created a trailer for the comedy "Death Becomes Her" showing a stained-glass version of the same painting--with no objection from the review board. "This inconsistence is almost as shocking as the decision itself," Blagg said.
If MGM had appealed, it would have been reviewed by MPAA president Jack Valenti. Last week, Valenti said: "I would have overturned this in a New York minute. I know St. Peter's and the Sistine Chapel. They are hallmarks of our civilization."
Asked, then, how the initial decision could have been reached, he said, "because we're all human beings and we sometimes make mistakes. Some of our people are going by the book. It says, 'no nudity.' Michelangelo must not be in the book."