Kirch dashes ‘Crusaders’ bash

Mipcom premiere canceled due to U.S. strikes

CANNES — Germany’s Kirch Media has canceled its glitzy Mipcom premiere for new historical miniseries “The Crusaders” in the wake of U.S. and British military action in Afghanistan.

Director Dominique Othenin-Girard was saddened by the decision, saying the film presented issues relevant today. The story’s protagonists are two brothers, one Christian, one Muslim, both fanatical in their faith, who ultimately realize the need for peace.

Company had planned to go ahead with the screening and dinner party at the TV mart in Cannes despite the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S., partly because of the pic’s gritty depiction of the Crusades to the Holy Land in the Middle Ages. But outgoing Kirch Media head Jan Mojto said the company felt uncomfortable hosting an extravagant event in the middle of military strikes.

After President Bush described the U.S. anti-terrorist campaign as a “crusade,” some felt the property’s title had become too loaded; a celebration in the south of France of a film entitled “The Crusades” may have been seen as especially insensitive, noted one company insider.

Kirch officials said there were no security concerns behind the decision.

Pic’s stars Franco Nero, Thure Riefenstein and Johannes Brandrup were set to fly in for the occasion but were notified Monday of the cancellation.

Mojto said the company would continue providing one of the two things the ancient Romans thought essential for the masses: “Bread and circuses. And although we don’t plan to go into the bakery business, we do plan to keep the circus full of life.”

Beta unspooled previews of upcoming miniseries and other fare, including “Young Casanova,” “Pasadena,” “Napoleon” and an updated remake of “Dracula.”

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