In a pair of ratings controversies, New Line Cinema said yesterday it will appeal the Motion Picture Assn. of America’s NC-17 rating of director Louis Malle’s “Damage,” while MGM said scenes have been trimmed from the Madonna-starrer “Body of Evidence” to deliver an R rating for the Jan. 15 release.

According to the MPAA, “Damage” was given the NC-17 rating for an extended erotic scene between stars Jeremy Irons and Juliette Binoche.

Directed by Louis Malle, “Damage” stars Irons as a member of Parliament who has an illicit affair with his son’s fiancee.

The NC-17 rating prohibits anyone under the age of 17 from viewing the film.

New Line Distribution president Mitchell Goldman said the company does not plan to edit the film before filing the appeal.

“‘Basic Instinct’ and other controversial major studio releases have had much more explicit and violent sex scenes and have still received an R rating,” Goldman said.

“We see no reason for the MPAA to give ‘Damage’ an NC-17 rating.”

MPAA president Jack Valenti said New Line’s appeal of “Damage” could take up to four weeks.

New Line plans to release the movie for Academy Award consideration in New York and Los Angeles on Dec. 16.

In the “Body of Evidence” scenario, MGM co-chairman and co-chief executive Alan Ladd said the studio is “satisfied that we have not compromised the artistic merits of the production” by cutting the movie down to an R.

Producer Steven Deutsch said the sex scenes in “Body of Evidence” were trimmed because all of the creative players involved in the movie agreed that the movie should not be judged as a sex film.

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