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Cuomo Joins PG-13 Push for 'Fahrenheit 9/11'

Mario Cuomo (searchhas been hired by the distributors of Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" (searchin their effort to get a PG-13 rating instead of an R.

"I'm going to do everything I possibly can to get this picture advanced," said the former New York governor, a Democrat who has been a lawyer in private practice since being defeated in a bid for a fourth term in 1994.

A screening by the Motion Picture Association of America's (search) appeals board has been set for June 22, just three days before the movie hits theaters. But the film's distributors, Lions Gate Films and IFC Films, are trying to move that screening up to this week to expedite a decision.

The MPAA ratings board gave the documentary — which is critical of President Bush's response to the Sept. 11 terror attacks — an R rating for "violent and disturbing images and for language." The film's images include a beheading in Saudi Arabia, Iraqis burned by napalm and an Iraqi man dumping a dead baby into a truckbed loaded with bodies.

An R rating means that those younger than 17 can't see the movie unless accompanied by an adult.

After seeing the movie three times, Cuomo said: "I was convinced that it should be viewed and reflected upon by as many Americans as possible ... especially young people who, in a few years, might be part of our military forces."

Besides representing the distributors, Cuomo plans to go on talk shows to promote the movie. (Recently, he's been promoting his book, "Why Lincoln Matters.")

"I'm committed personally to the proposition, as more than just a lawyer, that everybody should see this film," he told reporters Tuesday at his firm's midtown offices.

"Fahrenheit 9/11" won the top honor at last month's Cannes Film Festival for Moore, who received the 2002 Academy Award for best documentary with "Bowling for Columbine."

Moore had to seek new distributors for "Fahrenheit 9/11" after Disney refused to let its Miramax subsidiary release it, saying it was too politically charged. Miramax bosses Harvey and Bob Weinstein bought the movie back from Disney and lined up Lions Gate and IFC Films to help distribute it.

Lions Gate President Tom Ortenberg said the R rating could cut the movie's audience by 20 percent.

After the star-studded New York premiere of his film Monday night, Moore got a standing ovation and said if it encourages just one American to vote in November's presidential election "I'll be very happy."

Moore expressed hope that the 50 percent of Americans who don't vote "won't give up" and will decide to go to the polls.

"I love this country," he told the audience. "Maybe I'm crazy, but I'm very optimistic our country will be back in our hands in a very short time."

The premiere attracted numerous celebrities, including Richard Gere, Leonardo DiCaprio, Richard Dreyfuss, Glenn Close, Lauren Bacall, Yoko Ono and Tony Bennett.