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Judge dismisses lawsuit over child nudity in 1968 film “Romeo and Juliet”

Director Franco Zeffirelli initially told the two actors that they were going to wear skin-colored underwear in the scene, but they ended up being filmed naked without their knowledge, to make the film successful.

A Los Angeles judge has said she will throw out a lawsuit filed by the stars of the 1968 film “Romeo and Juliet” over nude scenes they allege involved fraud, sexual abuse and harassment when they were teenagers.

Superior Court Judge Alison Mackenzie ruled in favor of a motion by defendant Paramount Pictures, which the actors wanted to sue, dismissing the lawsuit brought by Olivia Hussey, who played Juliet at 15 and is now 72, and Leonard Whiting, who He played Romeo. at 16 and is also 72 years old.

Alison Mackenzie determined that the scene did not amount to child pornography and is protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution, finding that the actors “have not produced any authority to show here that the scenes in the film can be considered sexually suggestive enough under the law to be considered illegal.” conclusively.”

The lawyer for the actors, who rejects the decision, announced that intends to present another version of the process in Federal Court.

Actors sue Paramount for child nudity in 1968 film “Romeo and Juliet”

“We strongly believe that the exploitation and sexualization of minors in the film industry must be legally confronted and addressed to protect vulnerable individuals and ensure compliance with existing laws,” attorney Solomon Gresen said in a statement.

The film was a hit at the time, and despite the nude scene briefly showing Whiting’s bare buttocks and Hussey’s bare breasts, it was seen by generations of students studying Shakespearean tragedy.

Director Franco Zeffirelli, who died in 2019 at age 96, initially told the two actors that they were going to wear skin-colored underwear in the bedroom scene at the end of the film, recorded in the last days of shooting, the lawsuit alleges.

The actors inadvertently ended up being filmed naked, which violates federal anti-child exploitation laws, and Franco Zeffirelli, according to the lawsuit, allegedly told them they had to perform in the nude. “or the movie would flop” and their careers in jeopardy.

The actors claimed that the opposite was the case, that neither had the suggested successful career and that each suffered emotional damage and emotional distress for decades, asking for it. more than 500 million dollars (464.2 million euros) for damages caused.

The judge cited an appeals court precedent that said child pornography is “particularly abhorrent,” but “not all images of nude children are pornographic.”

The court’s ruling was based on California law, which is intended to protect defendants’ free speech from being stifled by lawsuits and is generally the first line of defense when a lawsuit is filed.

Source: Observadora

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