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Movie Ratings Overhaul?

By admin Published: January 17, 2007

This is on Variety's Web site (and thanks to George Thomas for pointing it out):

Looking to reform and demystify the ratings system, the MPAA and National Assn. of Theater Owners are planning a series of changes, including a new admonishment to parents that certain R-rated movies aren't suitable for younger kids, period.

Another key change: For the first time, a filmmaker will be able to cite another movie when waging an appeal.

Along with specific rule revisions, the campaign to make the ratings process more user-friendly and transparent for parents and filmmakers includes an extensive outreach and education program.

Campaign officially kicks off Monday at the Sundance Film Fest when MPAA topper Dan Glickman and Joan Graves, chair of the Classification & Rating Administration, will meet with indie filmmakers, producers and specialty arm execs to go over the alterations. (CARA is operated by the MPAA, which reps the major studios, and NATO.)

A year ago at Sundance, Kirby Dick made noise with his docu "This Film Is Not Yet Rated," which took direct aim at the Motion Picture Assn. of America's ratings system for being shrouded in secrecy and, hence, lacking accountability.

At the time, Glickman had already been meeting with and gathering input from various stakeholders in the ratings system -- including filmmakers, guilds, parents' groups and Washington lawmakers -- but Dick's film had an impact.

"The documentary made it clear that we probably haven't done as much as we can to explain how it all works," Glickman told Daily Variety, adding that the voluntary ratings system--devised and implemented by Jack Valenti, his predecessor -- is a "gem," even if it needs some polishing.

There's more, and you can find the complete story here.

In my DVD column last week, I took note of Kirby Dick's movie, which I liked quite a bit. But I also have to think that the new era of openness is a function of Glickman succeeding Jack Valenti, since Valenti seemed not keen on admitting error or promoting openness. Lots of interesting stuff here, too. If you've seen ''This Film Is Not Yet Rated,'' you'll know how frustrating it was for filmmakers that they couldn't compare their work to others in fighting for their ratings. But I'm a little wary of this announcement, too. In the full story, Variety notes that ''most members of the ratings board will remain anonymous,  although CARA will describe the demographic make-up of the board.'' As ''This Film'' showed, CARA's descriptions of members did not always fit the facts.

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