Imploring the MPAA ratings board to “let the people be the judge,” comedian Martin Lawrence Tuesday blasted the NC-17 rating given his upcoming concert pic “You So Crazy.”
Lawrence, flanked by lawyer Martin Garbus, director Thomas Schlamme and reps from Miramax Films and HBO Independent Prods., provided a sneak preview of the tack he’ll take when he appeals the rating at a second MPAA screening Feb. 23. The NC-17 rating came after a Feb. 10 screening in which the comedian’s language was found to be too dicey for an R.
Garbus says the NC-17 rating “deprives the parents of America the choice” to allow their teenaged children the opportunity to see the popular comedian’s film.
The appeal will come only two days before the film’s Feb. 25 opening in Los Angeles and New York. “Crazy” goes wide March 4.
Garbus, a famed First Amendment lawyer, wouldn’t comment on what action the producers will take if the ratings board fails to drop “Crazy” from NC-17 to R, but his presence alone sends a strong message — or at least strong hints. In an affidavit supporting the appeal, Garbus notes that he represented Lenny Bruce and the writings of Henry Miller and D.H. Lawrence in court battles.
The lawyer’s affidavit further states that “any restriction of this film implicates various provisions of federal and state statutory and constitutional law, including the antitrust regulations, as well as the First Amendment.”
Garbus is positioning the Lawrence case as unique in its NC-17 fight. He said the rating has never before been given solely on the basis of words and subject matter (as opposed to visual images). “This is the first time an NC-17 rating has been given to a male who is fully clothed,” he said.
Unlike most other films that have sought reclassification, “Crazy” can’t easily be toned down with a nip here and tuck there. Even director Schlamme conceded he wouldn’t know where to begin the re-editing process. “I would be asked to edit the very essence of the artist himself,” Schlamme said.