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Hollywood is becoming enamored with porn at the very time that the Bush administration suddenly wants to throw cold water on the subject.

Sunday night’s profile of the world’s most popular porn star, “Jenna Jameson: The E! True Hollywood Story,” earned the series its best key demos of the year. Brian Grazer is producing “Inside Deep Throat,” a documentary about how the Linda Lovelace pic affected popular culture.

Jerry Bruckheimer is producing “Skin” for the Fox Network, a one-hour drama populated with characters from the adult-film industry. Porn studio Vivid Entertainment is the subject of its own reality series, “Vivid XXX.” And next year, Arnon Milchan’s Regency Enterprises will play it for laughs with “The Girl Next Door,” a romantic comedy about a young man whose dream gal has one heck of a past.

Back in D.C., however, the administration is taking a much dimmer view.

On Monday, Bush-appointed Solicitor General Theodore Olson appealed to the Supreme Court to reinstate a law that would punish Web site operators that fail to prevent minors from viewing pornography.

Supporters of the adult film industry view this move as only the beginning of the Bush administration’s long-anticipated campaign to legislate porn out of business.

This comes at a time when filmmakers are facing even greater struggles to dodge the dreaded NC-17 rating. Jane Campion’s “In the Cut,” Screen Gems’ erotic thriller that stars Meg Ryan, struggled repeatedly with the Motion Picture Assn. of America to earn its R rating.

Adding fuel to the fire is the Aug. 8 indictment of Rob Zicari and Janet Romano, aka Rob Black and Lizzie Borden, directors and owners of porn studio Extreme Associates.

Feds investigate

In the first major federal porn investigation in over a decade, a grand jury indicted the pair on 10 charges of distributing obscene materials via the U.S. Postal Service and the Internet.

” ‘Deep Throat’ was the last hurrah of the anti-porn crusaders, until now,” said Fenton Bailey who, with Randy Barbato, is directing “Inside Deep Throat” and “Vivid XXX.” “Today, porn stars have joined the ranks of legitimate celebrity.”

The administration’s battering ram is the COPA Commission, a congressionally appointed panel mandated by the Child Online Protection Act.

Approved by Congress in October 1998, the commission is intended to “identify technological or other methods that will help reduce access by minors to material that is harmful to minors on the Internet.”

COPA was challenged by the ACLU and was placed on hold after a Philadelphia appeals court twice ruled that COPA unconstitutionally restricts speech.

Jan LaRue, chief counsel of Concerned Women for America, argues that the courts are simply trying to decide whether community standards apply in cyberspace.

“The courts are going to find that it’s constitutional to require commercial pornography sites to protect children, just as they are required to do in an adult bookstore,” she said.

Specifically, LaRue wants to stop kids from being exposed to free online pornography “teasers” by requiring all porn Web site users to provide a credit card transaction or adult access code. Last month, the Congressional General Accounting Office released a study that found children could type search words such as “Pokemon” or “Britney Spears” and find themselves looking at child pornography. According to the study, more than three-quarters of the search results from a dozen popular key words were pornographic.

Observers believe that many of these issues will hinge on the results of the Extreme case, which could bring the company’s owners 50 years in prison and a $2.5 million fine. An arraignment hearing in Pittsburgh is set for Aug. 27.

Ashcroft support

The case has inspired the support of Attorney General John Ashcroft, who called the indictment “an important step in the Dept. of Justice’s strategy for attacking the proliferation of adult obscenity. The Justice Dept. will continue to focus our efforts on targeted obscenity prosecutions that will deter others from producing and distributing obscene material.”

One of the tapes that led to the indictments was the Extreme feature “Forced Entry,” a film that centers on graphic rape and murder. Its production was showcased last year in “American Porn,” an episode of “PBS: Frontline.” The program showed the crew leaving the porn set in disgust.

Within the porn industry, there’s no doubt that Extreme intended to rile the PBS crew and, by extension, Ashcroft’s crew.

“You’ve got the worst example in our industry,” said Tim Connelly, publisher and editor of Adult Video News and editor of AVN.com. “(Extreme) likes to think they’re the Larry Flynt of their generation. They’re the Three Stooges of their generation.”

At the same time, Connelly said, he’d take the stand to defend the company’s right to produce that material.

“I think they’re awful human beings and I hate what they do, but do they have the right to do it? Yes, they do,” Connelly stated. “You always have to defend your worst enemy in this business. I wish they’d just gone out of business.”

A Pittsburgh jury that measures whether community standards have been violated — that is, whether a crime has actually taken place — will determine Zicari and Romano’s fate.

“In court, you usually start with a crime and try to figure out who did it,” said attorney Paul Cambria, who first protected the porn industry as part of Larry Flynt’s defense team in Cincinnati nearly 25 years ago. “Here, everyone knows who did it. The whole trial is trying to figure out if there’s a crime.”

Cambria, Connelly and other porn industry supporters say there’s no doubt in their minds that the Bush administration means to kill the adult entertainment industry. But if there’s going to be a fight, it’s one that the adult industry is prepared to win.

‘Defendable’ position

Cambria told Daily Variety that he is preparing to file a challenge to the validity of federal obscenity laws.

And Steven Hirsch, co-chairman and co-founder of Vivid, calls his products “infinitely defendable.”

“We are proud of the product we produce,” he said. “We shoot our movies so it appeals to couples all over the world.” Furthermore, there are indications that even if the government wants to get rid of porn, its constituents don’t.

According to AVN, Americans spent more than $4 billion buying and renting adult videos last year — a figure that does not include the Internet or mail order.

Nor is it clear how interested communities are in eliminating even the edgiest porn material. The Los Angeles vice office spent 18 months on the case of Max Hardcore, a pornographer accused of obscenity in connection with his tape “Max Extreme 4.” The trial ended with a hung jury, 6-6, last October. A new trial is set for Dec. 8.

In May 2002, Seymore Butts won a case in Los Angeles clearing him of all obscenity charges in regards to his production “Tampa Tushy Fest Part 1.” Butts currently stars in the Showtime reality series “Family Business,” now going into its second season.

“The most telling thing is that adults accept this material,” Cambria said. “The First Amendment is not a majority concept. They think that if they can muster a vocal majority, the First Amendment is gone. It doesn’t work that way. People enjoy their freedom, and they’re willing to be vocal about it.”

(Susan Crabtree in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.