The Reverend Jesse Jackson wants more than a haircut from "Barbershop." He's asking the filmmakers behind the hit ensemble comedy to trim some dialogue he finds offensive.
Citing a scene where Eddie, played by Cedric the Entertainer, pokes fun at late civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., bus-riding activist icon Rosa Parks and, well, him, Jackson told USA Today that, "the filmmakers crossed the line between what's sacred and serious and what's funny." (Click for photos from "Barbershop.")
Jackson is pressuring the film's producers to remove the scene from the film's future DVD, home video and cable releases. The low-budget flick has enjoyed the #1 spot at the box office since it was released (see "Moviegoers Find Haircutting More Interesting Than Spies, Groupies, Kidnapping, War").
Set in a Chicago barbershop, the movie stars Ice Cube, Eve, Sean Patrick Thomas ("Halloween: Resurrection"), Cedric and a host of others as hairclipper-wielding coworkers who shoot the breeze about a variety of subjects on an average day spent struggling to keep the neighborhood establishment alive.
The comments in question made by Cedric's cantankerous-old-man character, which also include swipes at Rodney King and O.J. Simpson, invoke loud and passionate disagreement from everyone else present at the time he says them.
"People are making too much of it," Cube told USA Today. "It's just a funny movie about a barbershop, and no one is exempt (from comment) at the barbershop. Just because we talk about people doesn't mean we don't love these people too."
"It was never our intent to upset anyone going to see the film," producers George Tillman and Bob Teitel explained in a joint statement issued on behalf of the "Barbershop" filmmakers and cast. "We take pride in making films that are uplifting and display extremely positive messages. The words spoken about our civil rights leaders are made by one character. Every other character disagrees with him. We by no means meant to disrespect those we give the utmost respect. We never meant to offend anyone, especially the civil rights leaders and their families."
MGM Pictures, which distributes the movie, was similarly apologetic in a statement of its own, though a source at the studio said that there are no plans to make any changes to the film itself.
"That same character, Eddie, also says, 'You can say anything you want in a barbershop,' " the statement reads. "For the characters in the film and in that place, no subject is off limits, and the filmmakers were trying to be true to that."