Hollywood is still struggling to strike the right tone following the school shootings in Connecticut, with the Weinstein Co. canceling tonight’s Los Angeles post-premiere party for “Django Unchained,” bizzers putting other events on hold, and cablers yanking episodes that depict gun violence.
But even as showbiz celebrations were shutting down on Monday — at least in the short term — the topic of carnage in movies and videogames was heating up, with lawmakers and TV pundits ratcheting up the rhetoric on the influence of Hollywood’s violent depictions.
Though TWC scrapped its Tuesday-night red carpet and afterparty for the shoot-em-up Western “Django Unchained” at the Arclight in Hollywood, the company said it still planned to hold the screening.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., and in this time of national mourning we have decided to forgo our scheduled event,” said a Weinstein Co. spokesperson.
Twentieth Century Fox canceled its red carpet and afterparty for this past Saturday’s preem of “Parental Guidance.” Paramount delayed Saturday’s Pittsburgh premiere of “Jack Reacher” until Wednesday, and the studio indefinitely postponed tonight’s New York City benefit screening at the Lincoln Center, where cast and crew had been expected to attend.
“Parental Guidance,” of course, is a comedy, but “Reacher” and “Django” reflect different parts of the violence spectrum, with “Django” the bloodier of the two pics.
Few other pics have premieres scheduled before the end of the year, and not all have been canceled in light of Friday’s shooting: IFC’s “On the Road” held its Monday night premiere in Gotham.
Cablers have also adjusted their programming lineups in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. Syfy canned its scheduled Friday night broadcast of “Haven” last week since the episode, titled “Reunion,” depicted violence in a school setting. Net has not made a decision as to when it will air the episode in the future.
TLC followed suit, delaying the debut of one-off spesh “Best Funeral Ever,” which centered on quirky funerals organized by Golden Gate Funeral Home. Originally skedded for Dec. 27, the hourlong special has been pushed to Jan. 6.
Finally, Discovery’s docuseries “American Guns” will not see a third season, though sources said the program concluded earlier this year, before the shootings in Newtown. Nevertheless, Discovery Channel has decided to not air repeats of the show, which focuses on a family of gunmakers.
Showtime preceded its Sunday-night broadcast of”Homeland” with the statement: “In light of the tragedy that has occurred in Connecticut, the following program contains images that may be disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised.”
As several lawmakers, including Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), have said that movie and videogame violence should be part of any renewed effort to curb gun violence, the Motion Picture Assn. of America and the Electronic Software Assn. did not respond to requests for comment. In the past, they have pointed to studies showing no causal link between depictions onscreen and real violence.
While the Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that violent videogames are protected forms of speech, the question is whether those in the industry will do some of their own soul-searching, particularly in the face of criticism from lawmakers, media commentators and parents orgs.
“Django” star Jamie Foxx seemed willing to have the industry look inward, saying in an interview while promoting the film over the weekend, “We cannot turn our back and say that violence in films or anything that we do doesn’t have a sort of influence. It does.”
But the pic’s director, Tarantino, said responsibility ultimately rests with the perpetrators of such crimes.
“I just think, you know, there’s violence in the world, tragedies happen, blame the playmakers. It’s a Western. Give me a break,” Tarantino said in another interview over the weekend.
On an otherwise bullish day on Wall Street, shares in Activision, maker of the popular “Call of Duty” franchise, fell 2.5%, although there were doubts as to whether the drop was linked to the shootings.
Nevertheless, Hollywood is being singled out in the aftermath of the tragedy, as the industry has been in the wake of previous rampages.
On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” co-host Joe Scarborough, who earned high marks from the National Rufle Assn. when he was a Florida congressman, came out in favor of stricter gun control measures. But he also cited the “violent, mind-numbing videogames and gruesome Hollywood movies that dangerously desensitize those who struggle with mental-health challenges. And then add in military-styled weapons and high-capacity magazines to that equation, and tragedy can never be too far behind.”
(Ted Johnson and AJ Marechal contributed to this report.)