Off Limits

The art of the deal

Making book: On May 11, the fifteen-member Mayor's Task Force on Future Library Funding set up by John Hickenlooper back in March will hold a public hearing on the DPL's funding and administration. We can understand why the public should be concerned that Denver's libraries are closed one day a week, but do we think City Librarian Rick Ashton is making the best argument for his agency when he cites a 38 percent cut in the budget for new books as the reason the library has only 200 copies of The DaVinci Code? The cast of hundreds still on the DPL waiting list for Dan Brown's book should know that the plot is essentially a ripoff of the two-part MacGyver that reran on TV Land last week -- and the TV show included the bonus of star Richard Dean Anderson's most-excellent mullet.

Before Brown, there was Clive Cussler, the onetime Arvada resident who's churned out best-selling adventure after best-selling adventure, all based on the unlikely adventures of his trademarked hero Dirk Pittô. These days, Cussler's churning out legal motions -- specifically, a suit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court back in January to stop Phil Anschutz's filming of a certain "motion picture" based on Cussler's Sahara. (Hubba-hubba photos of star Matthew McConaughey as a shirtless Dirk Pittô, Cussler's alter ego, started appearing in entertainment mags last week -- no complaints here.)

But Cussler must not have gotten too up-close and personal with the local gazillionaire when he agreed to option his Pitt novels to one of Anschutz's two movie companies. According to an April 22 Wall Street Journal piece describing Anschutz's interest in films (but not the Cussler case), a plaque on the wall of his Denver headquarters carries a quote from Hunter S. Thompson that calls the movie business "a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There is also a negative side."

A matter of taste: "Pastikas," from
A matter of taste: "Pastikas," from

And how: A controversial, fictional film about two gay lovers who are reincarnated after they die in the Holocaust was pulled days before its scheduled opening at the United Artists Denver Pavilions Stadium 15. Filmmaker Jorge Ameer says he learned Tuesday that The Singing Forest -- which features male frontal nudity -- was being yanked. The reason? The theater's owner, none other than Phil Anschutz, was upset by the tale.

Paul Serwitz, a Los Angeles-based booker for Regal Entertainment Group, confirms that the longstanding date was canceled but denies any Anschutz involvement. "We learned today that it was an unrated film," he says. "Those are the kind of edgier films that go into art houses. The Denver Pavilions is not an art house." Although Serwitz says it's common for independent filmmakers to forgo the voluntary film-rating system as a cost-saving measure and that Regal does sometimes book those films, the Anschutz-owned company doesn't book them at that location.

Ameer's not buying that explanation, however, especially since the last-second cancellation has cost him and his distribution company a bundle. The film, which premiered last year in Barcelona and has played in New York, Memphis and San Francisco, was slated to close in Fort Lauderdale this week so that the print could come to Denver. Now, not only is the movie off, but so is a benefit planned this Saturday for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center. "I think this is so hypocritical," Ameer says. "Regal shows R-rated films with full-frontal female nudity."

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