May 22, 2005

copyright used to censor cross-casted "huck finn"

"cross-casting" is an increasingly popular trend in film and theater, where a role traditionally know for being one race is is played by an actor of another: ving rhames is the new kojack, michael clarke duncan played the kingpin in daredevil, and ashton kutcher took sidney poitier's place in guess who?

but maryland high school students whose production of the stage adaptation of the adventures of huckleberry finn was to be featured on C-SPAN were shocked to learn that they would be edited out of the broadcast. why? because R&H theatricals, the play's copyright holder, objected to the cross-casting, which featured a black huck and a white jim.

bert fink, a spokesman for R&H, said

"In the books, Jim is a runaway slave. He is clearly in the novel an African-American man. And Huck is a free white man - that is central to the story. To ignore that component or to comment on it by switching is not faithful to the story that the musical's authors are trying to tell."

the C-SPAN program in question was close up, a show that celebrates high school excellence; specifically, that episode featured a national theater program called the CAPPIES. jay frisby and nick lehan, who play huck and jim respectively, were nominated for three CAPPIES awards. they also filmed a short question-and-answer session, which was broadcast, but R&H blocked the two musical numbers they had filmed.

R&H theatricals is a branch of the rodgers and hammerstein organization, and is the rights-holder for the rodgers and hammerstein catalog as well as a large number of musicals from many different authors.

Posted by stAllio! at May 22, 2005 06:47 PM