2ND UPDATE 10:40 AM: In Hollywood, so the saying goes, you can know that someone is lying because their lips are moving. Universal has now told me twice this morning that it sent an advance copy of the trailer for director Ron Howard’s Vince Vaughn-starring comedy The Dilemma to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation for vetting, claiming the organization didn’t object to it. But GLAAD just issued a news release strenuously disputing that:
“Last month, Universal shared a link to the trailer for the film The Dilemma with GLAAD. After reviewing, GLAAD called on Universal to remove the scene where the word ‘gay’ was used as a pejorative from the trailer. Today, after Anderson Cooper also spoke out against the scene, Universal confirmed to GLAAD that the offensive joke will be removed from promotional campaigns from this point forward, including in the trailer currently playing in movie theatres.
“The use of the word ‘gay’ in this trailer as a slur is unnecessary and does nothing more than send a message of intolerance about our community to viewers,” said GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios.”
Universal, however, told me it sent the trailer to GLAAD “before it ever went anywhere and there was no comment about it at all”. But GLAAD counters that it did not support or give a positive response to the trailer. “We’ve been working with Universal for some time to get them to remove it.” When the trailer debuted three weeks ago, complaints immediately came in to the studio and its marketing department. But Universal claims that’s when it called GLAAD again to “double check” there were no objections. The studio tells me that “only then did GLAAD say, ‘This is probably questionable. It’s not a major offense at all. But it’s best not to use it in the campaign so it avoids any questions.'” Hmm. Given how long ago the trailer began airing, it does seem that Universal decided to remove it and substitute a new one later only because of Anderson Cooper’s televised complaint this week (see below).
UPDATE 10:30 AM: Universal just issued this statement in response to my story: “The teaser trailer for The Dilemma was not intended to cause anyone discomfort. In light of growing claims that the introduction to the trailer is insensitive, it is being replaced. A full trailer, which has been in the works for some time, will post online later today.”
EXCLUSIVE 8:45 AM: Universal has a dilemma on The Dilemma. The studio recently debuted the first official trailer for its forthcoming Imagine comedy starring Vince Vaughn and directed by Ron Howard, and the reaction in Hollywood was dismay and disappointment. Not because it looks like a stinker. But because it uses the term “gay” as an insult right in the first scene. “Ladies and Gentlemen, electric cars are so gay,” Vaughn’s character tells a packed conference room to indicate his ridicule. Immediately after Deadline posted the trailer (removed today by Universal), Industry insiders took to the comments section for a heated discussion over the appropriateness of showcasing this scene much less including it in the movie at all. Now outsiders like CNN’s Anderson Cooper (see below) are disapproving of it as well. Until now, Universal hasn’t made any change to the trailer. But I’ve just learned the studio finally is responding to the pressure and planning to alter it. However, studio executives still appear bewildered by the situation “because we showed the trailer to gay groups like GLAAD and gay executives here and gays in our marketing department and no one was offended and everyone had a positive response,” a Uni insider claims to me. However, on the Ellen DeGeneres talk show this week, CNN host Anderson Cooper was interviewed by satellite on the subject of school bullying, and he brought up the Dilemma trailer and criticized it:
“I was sitting in a movie theater over the weekend and there was a preview of a movie, and in it, the actor said, ‘That’s so gay,’ and I was shocked that not only that they put it in the movie, but that they put that in the preview. They thought that it was okay to put that in a preview for the movie to get people to go and see it… We’ve got to do something to make those words unacceptable cause those words are hurting kids.
“Someone else I talked to recently,” Anderson continued, “said that the words people use and the things people say about other kids online, it enters into their internal dialogue. And when you’re a kid, it can change the way you see yourself and the way you think about yourself, and the worth that you give to yourself. I think we need to really focus on what language we’re using and how we’re treating these kids.”