Why Disney May Drop Duets from Program

NY Daily News, 2/15/00

The movie "Duets," co-starring Gwyneth Paltrow, looks like it's about to
get deep-sixed at Disney, and Hollywood insiders want to know why.

The Hollywood Reporter yesterday quoted Disney sources who
suggested that the company wanted to distance itself from the project
because it was too violent. In this scenario, anxiety about film violence
is running particularly high in the aftermath of the Columbine High
School massacre.

But Paltrow's father, Bruce Paltrow, who directed "Duets," told me: "To
connect this movie to the terrible tragedy at Columbine is as inaccurate
as it is inappropriate."

I've seen the movie, which Disney was to have released nationwide on
May 5, and it is a remarkable piece of film making about a disparate
group of karaoke singers who are separately trying to get to Las Vegas
so they can enter a singing contest.

The singers are played to perfection by an ensemble cast featuring
Maria Bello, Andre Braugher, Huey Lewis, Paul Giamatti, Scott Speedman
and Paltrow's Oscar-winning daughter.

Braugher's character is an ex-con who has committed violent acts.
That's the beginning and end of any real violence in "Duets."

There's another theory about the fate of "Duets":

The film was bought by Disney when the studio's chief was Joe Roth.
He championed the movie, but now, Roth has left Disney. Many in
Hollywood believe that his exit was the death knell for almost anything
he put his stamp on, "Duets" included.

Bruce Paltrow described Roth as an "artist and executive.

"But now that he's not there," Paltrow said, "Disney is no longer

That should leave a fair number of suitors. After all, the movie is
already made, and Gwyneth Paltrow is in it.

Roth was unavailable for comment.

Peter Schneider, who succeeded Roth as chairman of Walt Disney
Studios, has no idea how the Hollywood Reporter came to the
conclusion that "Duets" was violent.

"It's not a violent film," he said. "It's a lovely film."

And one, Schneider said, that should not be released nationwide. "We
think it should be a small release, and the film makers are unhappy
about that."

Paltrow said he asked Disney for the opportunity to sell the film
elsewhere, and the studio appears willing to let him try. From where I
sit, the line forms to the left.

Too Tough For Disney

Plymouth Evening Herald, 2/19/00

After director BRUCE PALTROW refused to edit two violent shooting
scenes out of his new film Duets, which stars his daughter Gwyneth,
the Disney Company has decided not to release the film and is offering
it to other studios.

"It's just not for us," a Disney source told the Hollywood Reporter. In
one scene a shop assistant is shot down and in the other, at the end of
the film, one of the characters gets shot several times while performing
karaoke on stage.

"Those two scenes completely take you out of the film," said the

Duets, which also stars Scott Speedman and HUEY LEWIS, follows three
characters who travel across America on their way to a karaoke
contest in Omaha, Nebraska.

Hollywood.com's synopsis of the film Duets

Director Bruce Paltrow teams with his Oscar-winning daughter Gwyneth
Paltrow for this romantic comedy with music. Paltrow plays Liv, a
struggling professional singer who travels the country competing in
karaoke contests. Two of her frequent competitors are her estranged
father, Ricky Dean (Huey Lewis), and Reggie (Andre Braugher), an
escaped convict trying to outwit the police. Liv, Ricky, Reggie, and
dozens of other would-be singing stars eventually meet up in Omaha,
where the national karaoke finals will determine who does the best job
of singing along with the records. Duets also features Paul Giamatti,
Scott Speedman, and Maria Bello; Brad Pitt was originally cast in
Speedman's romantic-interest role but withdrew after he and Paltrow
announced the end of their off-camera relationship