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Spielberg's star pupil: after soaking up the art of film at Steven Spielberg's side for 14 years, out producer Bonnie Curtis flies solo with a new indie film, The Chumscrubber.

Bonnie Curtis learned about filmmaking from one of the industry's most successful directors, Steven Spielberg. After six years as his assistant, followed by eight yearsasa producer on Spielberg's Amistad, Saving Private Ryan. AI: Artificial Intelligence, and Minority Report, Curtis understands like few others how to make a successful film. Now, two years after starting her own production company, Curtis is testing her skills with the August premiere of her first project, The Chumscrubber, a suburban black comedy written and directed by newcomer Arie Posin.

Curtis knew she wanted to make the film as soon as she read the script. "It was politically incorrect, and I liked that a lot," she says of the story, which profiles a group of prescription pill-addled teens who kidnap a boy they mistake for the younger brother of a loner (Jamie Bell) they are blackmailing for drugs.

Curtis, a native Texan, was particularly drawn to conversations in Chumscrubber where parents (played by Carrie-Anne Moss, Allison Janney, and Glenn Close, among others) don't want to hear what children are saying. "Each teenager tells their parents exactly what's happening," Curtis explains. "One parent thinks they are joking, another moans about how terrible his life is, and the third says, 'Oh, no, not you--you're the perfect kid.'"

Although none of the characters are gay, that scenario was similar to Curtis's coming-out experience years ago with her parents, who denied her sexuality.

"I experienced 'Oh, no, you're not gay,'" she says, "even when I'm saying from the depths of my soul that I am and I have accepted it myself."

One of the first people she came out to was her then-boss Spielberg. "I needed him," she said. "He was absolutely wonderful."

Curtis was also present when Spielberg resigned from the national advisory board of the Boy Scouts of America to protest the organization's discriminatory policies toward gays. "I broke down," she remembers. "I was so touched."

Curtis credits her boss's altruism for inspiring her fund-raising work for the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network. "They treat the reality of homosexuality as [it relates to] all of us, not just as an issue for gay people," she says.

Curtis feels she's coming out as a politically involved member of the gay community when many gays and lesbians, particularly those who work in creative fields, are pressured to be cautious. "I'm thrilled to be in such a vibrant, passionate, important chapter in the history of this country," she says. "I have been waiting my entire life to have a cause."

Lisotta also writes for L.A. Weekly.
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Author:Lisotta, Christopher
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 30, 2005
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