Questions about “‘Brokeback’ ban anger Utah theater owner

Posted on 19 Jan 2006 at 11:57pm
By Associated Press

Miller stands by decision to pull movie about gay cowboy love
just before speaking on importance of equality at NAACP event



Larry H. Miller

SALT LAKE CITY Moments before speaking to the NAACP on the importance of working toward equality, Utah Jazz owner Larry H. Miller angrily refused to explain his decision to pull “Brokeback Mountain” from one of his movie theaters.

Miller, on his way to speak at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s annual Martin Luther King luncheon, shoved a KSL Radio reporter’s microphone away, glared at the reporter and said, “I said everything I had to say when I pulled the movie. OK? Anything else you want to know?”

Miller, who also owns the minor league ball club the Salt Lake Bees, has yet to say why he canceled showing of the R-rated Western gay romance story at the Megaplex at Jordan Commons in Sandy.

That had been the only one of his theaters that had been scheduled to show the movie, which won four Golden Globes Monday night. It is being shown at other theaters in the area.

Miller’s decision on Jan. 5 came just two hours after he was told about the movie’s subject matter by a KCPW-FM reporter.

During that interview, he said booking a movie like “Brokeback Mountain” was a business decision, and “It’s something that I have to let the market speak to some degree. I don’t think I’m qualified to be the community censor.”

Miller has drawn both support and criticism within Utah, and his decision was the subject of a joke on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”

The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Transgender Community Center of Utah has urged people to avoid Miller’s businesses.

In Melbourne, “Brokeback Mountain” actor Heath Ledger said, “Personally, I don’t think the movie is (controversial), but I think maybe the Mormons in Utah do. I think it’s hilarious and very immature of a society.”

Minutes after the incident with the KSL reporter, Miller stressed the importance of working toward equality and of recognizing youth for their achievements.

“It is really neat to me to see people as young as they are developing a social conscience,” Miller said, referring to young winners of an essay contest announced during the banquet.

Miller was at the luncheon to present a $1,000 scholarship, as he has done for the last 12 years.

At the luncheon, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff defended Miller, saying “We know him as one of the most generous, charitable men in the state of Utah.”

He said Miller donates to organizations such as the NAACP, Boys and Girls Clubs and had recently donated his theater for a youth mentoring program fundraiser.

After the luncheon, Miller told the Deseret Morning News, “I see the attention I’m getting is a lot more positive than negative. Those on the negative are from outside.”

Miller, like approximately two-thirds of Utah’s population, is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which has campaigning against gay marriage.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition of January 20, 2006.

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