ABC, Disney counter attacks

WASHINGTON — The Walt Disney Co. and ABC denied Thursday they had anything against Arabs or Catholicism, after complaints from representatives of those groups.

Arab-American and U.S. Catholic groups are upset with Disney and ABC’s portrayal of characters in new movie and television productions.

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee said Wednesday that Disney seemed to have launched “a holy war against Arabs” because of the way Disney films, especially the new Demi Moore vehicle “G.I. Jane,” depict Arab characters.

It also said Disney, unlike other major studios, repeatedly had declined to meet its representatives.

New York-based Catholic group the Catholic League said it had started a petition drive to persuade Disney chairman Michael Eisner to withdraw the ABC show “Nothing Sacred,” because of the way it portrays the Catholic priesthood. The show is scheduled to debut Sept. 18.

A statement Thursday by Disney said the company had met members of the American-Arab group on several occasions and had sometimes made changes based on the group’s concerns.

” ‘G.I. Jane’ depicts activity in the Persian Gulf region, where action involving the United States has taken place over the past several years. … There was no intent to disparage any people in this film,” it added.

ABC, in a statement about “Nothing Sacred,” said, “We understand their sensitivities and we respect their beliefs. However, we feel ‘Nothing Sacred’ is a quality program that offers an honest depiction of one young priest’s desire to balance his faith in God with the challenges of modern-day life.” The net said it hoped that episodes of the program would persuade the Catholic group change its mind.

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