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This week, the Catholic League moves to Defcon 3 in its war with Bob and Harvey Weinstein over the Miramax-financed Kevin Smith comedy "Dogma." Miramax is the same studio the League tussled with four years ago over the film "Priest."

Midweek the league will mount a petition drive with a full-page New York Times ad titled "Appeal to Disney: Dumping `Dogma' took guts, now dump Miramax." And late last week, the League issued a statement insisting that Talk magazine head Tina Brown address issues of the First Amendment in its maiden issue.

This is the very holy war the Weinstein brothers were hoping to avoid when they purchased the film from their own company five weeks ago. (Lions Gate is current front-runner in the race to acquire the pic from the Weinsteins.)

This latest skirmish began in April when Catholic League prexy William Donahue responded to "Dogma" star Ben Afflecks statement that the film is "definitely meant to push buttons." "The Catholic League has a few buttons of its own to push, and it will not hold back," Donahue says.

Taking Donahue's bait, the Weinsteins' attorney Daniel Petrocelli of the L.A.-based Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp responded to Donahue's statement in a June 15 letter that implied a threat of legal action.

Calling Petrocelli's claims both "ridiculous" and "evil," Donahue says, "What I meant by my statement was that we are going to whip up a media storm about this. This is a fascistic attempt to muzzle our free speech. It will backfire."

This time, spokespeople at Miramax are keeping quiet. And people at Talk say that Brown has no intention of responding to the League's demand of an editorial.

For his part, Petrocelli responded in a prepared statement that addressed the irony that a group trying to limit the public's chances of watching a film was now claiming to have its free speech infringed upon.

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Author:Jones, Oliver
Date:Jun 21, 1999
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