Valenti assails bill aimed at blocking ‘Civil Action’

WASHINGTON — The Massachusetts Legislature has raised the ire of the Motion Picture Assn. of America with a bill that would make it illegal to use the name, portrait, picture, voice or any part of an individual’s life story without securing written permission.

Ramifications are endless

“Under (the bill), every name and picture utilized in a single issue of (any) publication would have to be cleared by each individual described, quoted or photographed. The ramifications of this proposed action are endless and hostile to the rights of reporters and creators of all media,” said MPAA prexy Jack Valenti.

The bill was introduced in an effort to block Touchstone Pictures’ “A Civil Action,” which is based on Jonathan Harr’s 1995 book of the same name, according to an MPAA spokesman.

“A Civil Action” is a true account of a lawyer — played by John Travolta in the film — who risks his livelihood to represent a handful of families from Woburn, Mass., who had lost their children to leukemia, seemingly through the result of toxic dumping by two large companies.

The families of eight leukemia victims filed the civil action in 1981 against two of Massachusetts’ largest companies, W.R. Grace & Co. and Beatrice Foods. The film is slated to begin lensing Oct. 1 in Toronto and Boston.

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