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Special Event

Vice Chairman of Paramount Testifies Before Senate Commerce Committee on Movie Industry's Marketing of Violence to Children

Aired September 27, 2000 - 9:33 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: And now, we now want to take you live to Washington, D.C. These are the hearings on media and marketing violence to children. Right now, speaking before the Senate Commerce Committee, is Rob Friedman. He is vice chairman of motion picture group for Paramount Studios.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

ROB FRIEDMAN, VICE CHAIRMAN, PARAMOUNT: We expect to have each of these changes in place very soon. Although today's discussion turns on marketing of entertainment products, it also touches on issues of content. I think we all recognize that violent themes and storytelling, such as war, betrayal and retribution, are anything but new. I need to think only of traditional Grimm's fairy tales, the works of Shakespeare, or the latest "New York Times" bestseller list, to realize that the interest in these themes spans the centuries and crosses into all age groups.

What changes, is that each person tells these stories in the context of his or her own environment and experiences. Because the range of human experience is rich in variety, stories can be, and frequently are, not violent. In recent years, for example, Paramount releases have included "Runaway Bride," "The Truman Show," "The Rugrats Movie," "Titanic," "Indian in the Cupboard," "Forrest Gump," "Searching for Bobby Fischer" and many other fine movies.

The people associated with Paramount have built and extraordinary body of work that has enriched our culture and should make us all proud. However, not every movie is a masterpiece. Just not -- just like not every book wins a Pulitzer Prize, not every painting ends up gracing the walls of the National Gallery.

Movies, like painting, books, plays and songs are art. And there is no simple formula that one can apply in making movies or in evaluating them. There is also no set formula for marketing movies. Over the course of the year, any movie company will run hundreds of different advertisements in thousands of different outlets.

As the FTC report indicates, we have not always been as careful as we could have been. I do not believe, however, that we systematically focused our advertising efforts for R-rated films towards young children. In fact, our own analysis of the ages of the actual audiences for R-rated Paramount films included in the FTC study, shows that for our films, on average, less than 10 percent of the audience was under the age of 17.

In closing, I would like to leave you with a few thoughts that I hope will lend some useful perspective to the discussion. Like many of you and like many of my colleagues, I am a parent myself. I am the father of two wonderful daughters. Like so many other parents in America, their mother and I work hard to meet the challenges of parenting. At least, in part, by helping our children make decisions, regarding what movies and television programs they watch, what music they hear and what games they play. That is our job as parents and we take it seriously.

The current rating system provides a solid foundation for helping parents guide their children, and the enhancements that we propose today offer the substantial potential for improvement. As we can see, from the FTC's own survey, 98 percent of parents responded that they are usually involved in the selecting of what movies their children see and 90 percent report that they restrict the movies their children watch.

Those incredibly high numbers remind us that parents are already involved in deciding what movies their children use and see. It's in all of our interests to provide the best information, so that parents can make their decisions freely and knowledgeably. We share your desire to find an effective and workable solution that protects both our children and our Constitution.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman for the opportunity to testify. I look forward to answering any questions the committee may have.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Thank you, and I want to thank you and all of the witnesses for making time to appear before the committee this morning.

Mr. Gianopolis, welcome.

KAGAN: Dipping in to listen to a bit of the Senate Commerce Committee hearing. These are, basically, movie moguls from Hollywood, talking about the topic of marketing violence to children in the United States. They had been called to testify earlier and did not. And now, they are there before Congress and the Senate. And the Senate giving ideas of how they could avoid marketing violence to children.

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