Sean Penn Receives Apology After Phone Ad Gets Bad Reception

Universal ran 'Interpreter'/T-Mobile ad that violated actor's contract.

Universal’s “The Interpreter” may have taken in enough money this past weekend to be translated into any language as a success, but that doesn’t mean that all the film’s stars are happy.

“Last week, Universal Pictures and the Los Angeles Times ran a promotional advertisement for ‘The Interpreter’ which featured the logo of a third party,” began a highly unusual, apologetic advertisement for the film that ran in the Times on Friday. The aforementioned third party is cellular-phone provider T-Mobile, and the intended reader is none other than the film’s notoriously irritable star, Sean Penn.

“Sean Penn was not consulted about this advertisement as is required in his agreement with the film’s production company, Working Title,” the ad continued.

The apology presented a unique opportunity for movie fans to peek into the minutiae of studio-versus-star negotiations. It’s a carefully worded battleground where nothing is too small to be put into writing. Penn, seeking to maintain his own freedom to endorse or avoid any company of his choosing, took umbrage with Universal and Working Title when their April 16 ad utilized a T-Mobile contest to garner interest in “The Interpreter.”

“Universal Pictures regrets this oversight,” the ad concluded.

“The Interpreter” casts Penn as Tobin Keller, an FBI agent more concerned with terrorism and retribution than text messaging and ring tones. The film, which opened Friday, finished in first place this weekend with a take of just under $23 million (see ” ‘The Interpreter’ Takes #1; Ashton Keeps His Pants On” ). Penn likely received plenty of congratulatory calls, but we’re guessing that he wasn’t picking up on a T-Mobile phone.

Check out everything we’ve got on “The Interpreter.”

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