Those who viewed early screenings of Universal Pictures' The Jackal (released Friday) saw Bruce Willis' assassin character--his cover blown--gun down a man (Steven Spinella) he has just kissed in a gay bar. To many in the audience, it appeared Willis' "Jackal" killed the guy because he was gay, not because he threatened to expose the terrorist's identity.
To the dismay of both the producers, costar Richard Gere and gay activists, some in the audience applauded the scene. "All involved were appalled by the possibility that the audience could burst into applause because of the death of a gay man," says Chastity Bono, entertainment media director for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, and the more-Sonny-than-Cher-looking daughter of the early-'70s variety show couple. "We heard about it, called [Universal] up and told them there was a problem."
As Bono explains it, GLAAD didn't have much explaining to do to producer Sean Daniel, who had already decided the scene needed re-editing, so it would be clear as to why Willis was offing the guy. "Sean Daniel wasn't happy about it either," she says. "But it was a positive thing for everybody...He said we'll re-edit it, and we want you to see it and tell us what you think."
The new version, which is shorter, "makes it explicit that the motivation for the gay man being killed has nothing to do with his sexual orientation," a GLAAD statement reads.
"[Bono] made it clear that she was not calling in any way to position GLAAD as a censor, [but that we] should be thoughtful because we are dealing with issues that carry a lot of weight out there in our culture," says Daniel. "That's a good message."
No complaints have been voiced yet from Irish-Americans complaining about Gere's accent in the movie, which has been resoundingly panned by critics.