Friday, February 08, 2008

Censorship & Intolerance Still Alive In St. Charles 20 Years Later?

School Superintendent Orders Movie Company To Cease Using School Name

By Tony Brockmeyer

St. Charles Schools Superintendent Randall Charles has
ordered a Hollywood Production Company that includes several graduates of St. Charles High School to cease the use of the name of the school district in a promotion that was being held to raise money for the high school drama department.

Dr. Darlene Lieblich, Exective Producer of the controversial movie, HEART of the BEHOLDER, received a e-mail from Superintendent Charles ordering her to, “immediately cease the use of the name of the City of St. Charles School District or St. Charles High School and/or any other district school. He further wrote that the district has no interest in benefiting financially or in any other way from the promotion, sale or distribution of the film.

HEART of the BEHOLDER is based on the true story of a young St. Charles couple. (Ken Tipton and his wife Carol) chasing the American Dream by risking their live savings and opening the very first videocassette movie rental business in St. Charles about 20 years ago. They lost their multi-million dollar chain of video stores, their home, and almost their lives fighting Reverend Donald Wildmon’s National Federation for Decency.

(Since 1988 it has been called People For The American Way - American Family Association over the video rental of Martin Scorsese’s controversial movie, The Last Temptation of Christ.

According to Ms. Lieblich, a veteran network television exeutive and former Daytime Emmy Chairman, “People claim our movie trashes Christians and they haven’t even seen it. It is about censorship and the abuse of power - both religious and political corruption. That’s why our second Best Feature Film award came from an all Bible Belt Christian audience in Kentucky.”

The writer/director of HEART of the BEHOLDER Ken Tipton, along with cast and crew members Avis Taylor, Larry Ruebling, and Patrick Kieman are all former St. Charles High School sutdents who got their start in the entertainment industry on the stage at SCHS. When Joseph Hosea, the St. Charles High School’s Drama Department head let it be known that their school productions, equipment, and theater were in dire need of renovation, Executive Producer Darlene Lieblich offered a promotion to raise funding using HEART of the BEHOLDER.
A free showing of the movie scheduled to be held at St. Charles Wehrenberg 18 Cine where the Executive Producer and Director were going to be available for questions was cancelled after receiving the cease order from Superintendent Charles. Other aspects of the promotion were also cancelled.

Ms. Lieblich wrote the Superintendant the following e-mail but has not received a reply:

I am deeply saddened that you so firmly maintain your opposition to the benefit screening of our film HEART of the BEHOLDER. As you have not responded to any of my questions, I still have no idea what basis you are using for your decision or if you have even seen the film yourself before taking an action which will deprive the St. Charles High School Drama Department of a potentially large donation.

I have worked as a professional network television censor for over 30 years so I am keenly aware of the political forces that rise up when it comes to material that routinely sparks debate. The core element of our movie’s story is censorship and intolerance which is a topic that I am passionately against.

Every school in your district has at some time had fundraisers for many worthy causes and used many different incentives and promotional materials. Our free screening and promotional drive has been under discussion for several weeks so your order to cease confuses me.

Have you seen our movie?

What is it about our movie that you find objectionable?

Did you live in St. Charles when the story happened?

Do you want us to cancel our February 2 screening?

Would it help if 100% of the funds generated were donated to the school?

I appreciate the opportunity to resolve these issues as soon as possible. I suggest that we postpone the screening and fundraiser until Feb. 23 when I will be in town again. I would then send you copies of the DVD so you could have adequate time to make an informed decision.

Dr. Darlene Lieblich
Executive Producer

The First Capitol News was able to contact Superintendent Charles at a conference he was attending. He said, “I didn’t cancel the promotion. I advised them they were not to use the name of the district or the high school and they went ahead and cancelled the promotion on their own.”

HEART of the BEHOLDER, written and directed by 1971 SCHS graduate Ken Tipton, is based on his family’s true story of how they stood up to religious censorship, intolerance, and political corruption. The movie is currently screening on the independent film festival circuit and has won more Best Feature Film awards than any independent movie ever.

HEART of the BEHOLDER stars many well known performers such as John Dye from “Touched by an Angel”, Michael Dorn who plays Worf on “Star Trek”, Greg Germann from “Ally McBeal”, Jason Wiles from “Third Watch”, 3-time Emmy winner Sarah Brown, Matt Letscher from”Mask of Zorro” with Antonio Banderas, Anne Ramsay from “Mad About You” and “The L Word”, Tony Todd from “Platoon” and “Candyman”, Arden Myrin from “Mad TV”, Oscar nominee Patty McCormack, and Priscilla Barnes from “Three’s Company”.

Darlene Lieblich can be contacted at:

THE HEART of the BEHOLDER Website is: