Conn. Panel Misses Voting Deadline to Protect Hollywood's Images, Voices

Paul Newman's star power wasn't enough to prompt a vote by a key Connecticut legislative committee before its deadline on a bill designed to protect Hollywood's images and voices.

The legislature's Judiciary Committee ran out of time Monday to vote on the bill, said Sen. Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford, the committee co-chairman.

"There just wasn't enough time for us to work through what the difference between political satire and parody is, and what would be justifiable for a public figure to expect protection for," McDonald said.

Newman and fellow actors Christopher Plummer and Charles Grodin, all state residents, appeared before the committee on Friday.

They told lawmakers they worry that technology has made it possible to access their films, images and voices, and to use that material to produce another product they know nothing about.

Newman's lawyer, Stephen E. Nevas, said he's hopeful lawmakers will take up the legislation later this session and amend it to another bill. Legislators are considering a similar bill that would prohibit musical acts from falsely billing themselves as a famous group.

Nevas said Newman and other actors worry that new technology makes it easy for someone to take a few frames of film and a snippet of audio and put together a new movie that puts words in the actors' mouths and puts them in places they've never been.

"We feel very good about the bill and we don't have any reason to believe there is any significant body of opinion opposed to it," Nevas said. "I think it's just that it got caught in the last-minute crush."

However, the Motion Picture Association of America, which represents the major film studios, is pleased the legislation died on the vine.

"This bill suffered from, I think, severe First Amendment problems, particularly because the bill applied to all individuals," said Vans Stevenson, the MPAA's senior vice president for state government affairs.

"Technically anything from Jon Stewart's show to doing parodies of political figures to movies like `Contact' and `Forrest Gump' where you're using news footage and that kind of thing of public figures would be subject to litigation," he said.