EXCLUSIVE: He starred in the first Warner Bros. Space Jam movie back in 1996, however, Pepe Le Pew will not be showing up at all in the upcoming theatrical sequel Space Jam: A New Legacy on July 16.
With the Looney Tunes French skunk besieged by controversy in the wake of New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow slamming that the cartoon character “added to rape culture,” Deadline has learned that a hybrid live-action animation scene between Jane the Virgin actress Greice Santo and Pepe Le Pew, shot back in June 2019 for Space Jam 2 was left on the cutting room floor.
The Pepe Le Pew character will likely be a thing of the past across all media. Warner Bros. also has no current TV series featuring the skunk and there are no plans to have him appear on Looney Toons, Bugs Bunny Builders, Tiny Toons Looniversary or future projects, sources confirmed to Deadline.
The live-action Space Jam 2 scene was filmed by the pic’s first director, Terence Nance. As we first reported in July 2019, Nance left the production with Malcolm D. Lee taking over. Under the direction of Lee, Pepe Le Pew was eliminated from the sequel a while ago and never animated for the live-action footage which was shot. According to sources who saw a rough cut three months ago, they didn’t see any kind of cameo by the skunk.
I understand that Pepe’s firing from Space Jam: A New Legacy has nothing to do with the recent remarks made by the New York Times’ Blow.
But wait until you hear about the scene with Pepe which was cut.
Pepe was set to appear in a black-and-white Casablanca-like Rick’s Cafe sequence. Pepe, playing a bartender, starts hitting on a woman at the bar played by Santo. He begins kissing her arm, which she pulls back, then slamming Pepe into the chair next to hers. She then pours her drink on Pepe, and slaps him hard, sending him spinning in a stool, which is then stopped by LeBron James’ hand. James and Bugs Bunny are looking for Lola, and Pepe knows her whereabouts. Pepe then tells the guys that Penelope cat has filed a restraining order against him. James makes a remark in the script that Pepe can’t grab other Tunes without their consent.
Upon learning that her scene with Pepe was cut, Santo was upset according to her spokesperson. The actress-singer has been a victim of sexual harassment and has spoken out against it; even recording a debut single “Você Você” back in February 2018 with multi- Grammy-winning producer Humberto Gatica to empower women to stand up to sexual predators and sexual harassment. Santo even has a non-profit, Glam with Greice, which aims to empower victims of domestic violence to change their lives for the better. Santo took joy in shooting the Space Jam sequel scene with Pepe, because the skunk finally gets his comeuppance.
A spokesperson for Santo tells Deadline today, “This was such a big deal for Greice to be in this movie. Even though Pepe is a cartoon character, if anyone was going to slap a sexual harasser like him, Greice wished it would be her. Now the scene is cut, and she doesn’t have that power to influence the world through younger generations who’ll be watching Space Jam 2, to let younger girls and younger boys know that Pepe’s behavior is unacceptable.”
Warner Bros has encountered problems before in recent years over Looney Tunes‘ politically incorrect characters. Last June, the old Looney Tunes streaming on HBO Max banned Elmer Fudd from using a gun, given the modification in response to US gun violence.
When reached, Warner Bros. did not provide comment on Pepe’s elimination for Space Jam: A New Legacy. James is a producer on the sequel alongside Ryan Coogler, Duncan Henderson, and Maverick Carter.