- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 25, 2002


The Rev. Jesse Jackson says he is pleased that the producers of "Barbershop" have apologized for the film's barbs about Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King and others, but still wants the jokes cut from digital video disc and videocassette editions of the hit movie.

The producers, Bob Teitel and George Tillman, told the Associated Press on Monday that they had apologized to Mr. Jackson on behalf of everyone involved with the film.

"I completely did not mean to offend anyone," Mr. Tillman said.

But Mr. Jackson said the producers must go further and remove those scenes from the video, DVD and cable-TV versions.

"The apology is a step in the right direction," he told the AP, but added that he would "keep appealing to them" to do "the right thing."

"Barbershop," the No. 1 film of the last two weeks, has been a surprise box-office hit. It stars rapper/actor Ice Cube as the inheritor of a barbershop on Chicago's South Side. Cedric the Entertainer plays an old, cantankerous barber who jokes about King's reputed promiscuity.

The character also says other blacks refused to give up their seats to whites in the segregated South, but that Mrs. Parks received the credit because she was connected to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He also directs an expletive at Jackson.

The character immediately is condemned by others in the barbershop for being disrespectful.

"The producers and writers, we wanted one individual in the shop saying something funny and we wanted everyone to disagree with that person," Mr. Tillman explained.

However, Mr. Jackson said he had spoken to King's widow, Coretta Scott King, and son, Martin Luther King III, as well as the Parks family and other civil rights leaders and that they "feel highly insulted" by the jokes.

He accused the filmmakers of "trying to turn tragedy into comedy."

But he said "the apology is an admission and a recognition that they knew they were wrong."

Mr. Teitel said he was not aware of calls to have the scenes removed from future editions of the film and so had not considered such a move.

Director Malcolm Lee, whose films include "The Best Man" and "Undercover Brother," calls the brouhaha "a little silly."

"I think if they want to protest movies, there are a lot of other movies to protest that do a lot more damage to the black community," Mr. Lee said. "There are strong images and more egregious affronts to [blacks]."

AP music writer Nekesa Mumbi Moody contributed to this article.

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