Critic suffers heart attack at screening

Jones was ailing from health issues

Add another chapter to the sturm und drang surrounding “A Mighty Heart”: Thursday night a film critic’s heart gave out before a promotional screening at the ArcLight.

Anderson Jones, a former critic for E online, CNN Headline News and TNT’s Roughcut, suffered a major coronary at the theater and died shortly after. Jones, also known as Andy, left E several years ago and had been freelancing ever since for publications such as Emmy mag and Lavender, a gay and lesbian pub in Minnesota.

He was 38 and had been struggling with health issues in recent years.

Meanwhile, over on the Paramount lot, emotions were running high at a screening designed to promote religious tolerance. Participants described the mood as alternately harmonious and tense.

Peter Laarman, exec director of co-sponsor Progressive Christians Uniting, heard a “bunch of muttering” before the screening and feared tensions would boil over at the panel, but it ended before that occured.

“I felt the vibe and it was not good,” Laarman said. “It could have gotten ugly.”

Hussam Ayloush, exec director of the Greater Los Angeles branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, painted a rosier picture of the evening, calling it “probably one of the most moving and inspiring events I’ve ever participated in.” He did concede emotions were running high.

“People were in tears watching the movie,” Ayloush said. “I would do it again any time. Nothing beats person to person dialogue.”

Even Allyson Rowen-Taylor, a Jewish activist who had decried CAIR’s co-sponsorship (Daily Variety, June 22), conceded the mood had its harmonious moments.

“I totally believe that Paramount had the best intentions,” Rowen-Taylor said. “But if you’re aligning yourself with these groups, you have to be very careful. That’s all Paramount should learn from this.”

“A Mighty Heart’s” production was plagued with controversy from the beginning, with some objecting to the casting of Caucasian actress Angelina Jolie to play Mariane Pearl, who’s biracial. The production had to shift from Pakistan to India because of safety concerns. Jolie’s handlers created another firestorm when it insisted journos sign an agreement restricting their questions at the premiere.

(Anne Thompson contributed to this report.)

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