Studio plans to err on conservative side, spokeswoman sez

WASHINGTON — Now that Sony/Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment has landed domestic DVD distribution rights to “Fahrenheit 9/11,” studio is facing the wrath of some of same Republicans who went after Michael Moore before the controversial doc was released.

Days before “Fahrenheit 9/11″ opened in theaters, Citizens’ United, a conservative group in Washington, filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, charging that the movie and any ads related to its promotion amount to political electioneering and are subject to the same restraints of the new campaign finance laws.

In essence, no references to or pics of George W. Bush can appear in any movie ads that appear 30 days before a primary election of national convention and 60 days before a general election, the group argued.

Citizens United now plans to amend the complaint to include Sony/Columbia TriStar as soon as possible, knowledgeable sources said Wednesday.

David Bossie, the group’s prexy, confirmed that the org is “looking very closely at the Sony agreement” to handle the DVD’s distribution and promotion and will act on the matter immediately after conferring with its lawyers.

Sony spokeswoman Susan Tick tells Daily Variety that Sony’s advertisements for the DVD will be much different than spots for the theatrical release and that the studio plans to err on the conservative side — so to speak — and adhere to the strictest interpretation of election law.

“Our advertising and marketing material will be compliant with all FEC election laws, interpreted in the strictest fashion,” she said.

In the end, Moore and Sony may have nothing to worry about besides jumping through a series of legal hoops. The FEC rarely acts on such a dicey political matter swiftly and several of the agency’s commissioners, including Republicans, have expressed initial opinions that “Fahrenheit” should fall under the media exception to the new campaign finance laws and, therefore, would not be held to the same kind of electioneering standards.

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