+ BIZ: MPAA and “Passion” Talk Dominate Awards Weekend
(by Eugene Hernandez, March 1, 2004)

Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of The Christ” and the infamous screener ban were among the hot topics on the Los Angeles party circuit this weekend as independents and Hollywood honored their favorite films and filmmakers of 2003.

Over at the Independent Spirit Awards in Santa Monica on Saturday afternoon, Jack Valenti made a surprise appearance on stage at the start of the show. As host John Waters told a story about a recent prison sentence for letting a screener copy fall into the hands of bootleggers, MPAA head Valenti walked on stage to apprehend the host and escorted him away in handcuffs as the audience roared with applause and laughter.

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