Friday, November 12, 1999

Religious advocate loses
bid to name theaters in
ad critical of film

Star-Bulletin staff


A former head of the Hawaii Christian Coalition is objecting to a demand that the names of two theater chains be deleted from a newspaper advertisement critical of the movie "Dogma."

Daniel P. McGivern said an official with the Hawaii Newspaper Agency, which handles advertising for the Honolulu Advertiser and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, refused to allow an ad that protests the film on religious grounds and names Consolidated Theatres and Signature Theatres.

Mark Adkins, HNA vice president for advertising, didn't allow the names of the theater chains because they are newspaper advertisers, according to McGivern.

He said Adkins wanted the ad to be called a political advertisement, "a first in Hawaii for a religious ad."

"This is just one more example of the lack of freedom of the press in Hawaii," McGivern said in a statement. "It is ludicrous to be forced not to name the theater chains, or the ad doesn't run at all, when the theaters themselves are running ads on 'Dogma' (today)."

Adkins was out of town and could not be reached for comment.

HNA General Manager Dennis Francis said "we didn't feel it necessary" to include the names of the chains since "Dogma" -- which opens at four Oahu theaters -- will be in movie listings taken by Consolidated and Signature.

Minor changes were made to McGivern's ad, including adding a line saying who paid for it -- standard procedure for political ads, he said.

The names of the theater chains were replaced with "local theaters," Francis said.

"Dogma" is a controversial work about the inauguration of an upbeat, Vatican-approved, 21st century creed called "Catholicism WOW!" at a Red Bank, N.J., church. It is directed by Kevin Smith ("Clerks," "Chasing Amy") and features actors Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.

"No doubt about it: 'Dogma' is a hot potato," said New York Times critic Janet Maslin.

The critical ad, which is running today in both newspapers, says the film openly blasphemes God, defames all organized religion, and particularly mocks Catholic teachings, according to McGivern, a Roman Catholic.

"The entire purpose of this film is to denigrate religion and belief in God -- and hoping, of course, that enough people will buy tickets to see what this trash is all about," he said.

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