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'Gay' group blasts 'Today'
over 'Brokeback' review

Scene from ‘Brokeback Mountain’ (via Today Show)

A homosexual rights group is demanding a meeting with NBC after veteran “Today” show film critic Gene Shalit called one of the characters in the controversial “gay cowboy” movie “Brokeback Mountain” a “sexual predator.”

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, or GLAAD, said Shalit used the occasion “to promote defamatory anti-gay prejudice to a national audience.”

A video link to Shalit’s segment Thursday can be found here

In the film, two 19-year-old ranchers named Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) unexpectedly engage in sexual relations one night as they guard sheep on a rugged mountain in 1963 Wyoming.

Shalit, who has been on the ‘Today’ show for 31 years, said in his review: “Jack, who strikes me as a sexual predator, tracks Ennis down and coaxes him into sporadic trysts.”

The homosexual-rights group said in an e-mail to activists that Shalit has a right, as a film critic, to criticize the movie, “but his baseless branding of Jack as a ‘sexual predator’ merely because he is romantically interested in someone of the same sex is defamatory, ignorant and irresponsible.”

The group said it’s “equally irresponsible for NBC News to have given Shalit a platform for his gratuitously offensive comments.”

Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal portray cowboys who fall in love with each other in ‘Brokeback Mountain’

“Brokeback Mountain has garnered seven Golden Globe nominations and positive media reviews, setting it up as a front-runner for the Oscars. Yesterday, it added four nominations by the Screen Actors Guild, including a supporting actor nod for Gyllenhaal

GLAAD said NBC has not responded yet to its requests for a meeting.

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Previous column:

‘Brokeback Mountain’: Rape of the Marlboro Man

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