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Updated

On the day that “Zero Dark Thirty” hits theaters nationwide, Sony
Pictures Entertainment issued a statement defending the movie after an
Academy member said that he would not vote for the movie because he says
it advocates the acceptance of torture.

Sony took the unusual step of issuing a statement from SPE co-chair
Amy Pascal, in what it characterized as a response to public comments
made by an Academy member, actor David Clennon, that he would not vote
for the movie because he felt it promoted the acceptance of the use of
torture in the war on terror.

In her statement, Pascal said that the movie “does not advocate
torture,” and criticized Clennon, for using his “voting status in AMPAS
as a platform to advance their own political agenda.”

A representative for Clennon was seeking comment from his client.

The movie already has sparked a furor among some lawmakers on
Capitol Hill, who claim that it wrongly depicts waterboarding as
beneficial to extracting valuable information in the hunt for Osama bin
Laden.

Bigelow and Boal have defended the movie. Although it scored
Oscar nominations on Thursday for best picture and for its screenplay,
the surprise was that Bigelow was excluded from the nominees for
director.

Pascal said, ” ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ does not advocate torture. To
not include that part of history would have been irresponsible and
inaccurate. We fully support Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal and stand
behind this extraordinary movie. We are outraged that any responsible
member of the Academy would use their voting status in AMPAS as a
platform to advance their own political agenda. This film should be
judged free of partisanship. To punish an Artist’s right of expression
is abhorrent.

She added, “This community, more than any other, should know how
reprehensible that is. While we fully respect everyone’s right to
express their opinion, this activity is really an affront to the Academy
and artistic creative freedom. This attempt to censure one of the great
films of our time should be opposed. As Kathryn Bigelow so
appropriately said earlier this week, ‘depiction is not endorsement, and
if it was, no artist could ever portray inhumane practices; no author
could ever write about them; and no filmmaker could ever delve into the
knotty subjects of our time.’ We believe members of the Academy will
judge the film on its true merits and will tune out the wrongful and
misdirected rhetoric.”

Clennon played Miles Drentell on “Thirtysomething,” and more recently appeared in “The Mentalist” and “J. Edgar.” Several weeks ago, a man identifying himself as Dave Clennon commented on a New Yorker story about the protest waged against the film by Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Sen. Carl Levin (D-Michigan.).

Commenter Clennon wrote, “I’m
a member of the Motion Picture Academy, Actors’ Branch. At the risk of being
expelled from the Academy, I’d like to say that I will not be voting for “Zero
Dark Thirty” — in any category. (Everyone who contributes skill and energy to a
motion picture — including actors — shares responsibility for the impressions
the picture makes and the ideas it expresses. Jessica Chastain won’t get my vote
for the SAG “Actor” Award, either. With her beauty and her tough-but-vulnerable
posturing, she almost succeeds in making extreme brutality look weirdly
heroic.)”