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in Filmmaking
on Jul 20, 2006

Brooks Boliek in The Hollywood Reporter reports on a bill being voted on by the Senate that extends the reach of the Justice Department’s 2257 regulations, which we’ve blogged about often, to Hollywood films. Bizarrely dubbed “the Adam Walsh Act” — after the murdered son of America’s Most Wanted‘s John Walsh (what does his death have to do with simulated sex scenes in mainstream films?) — the bill seems to have been severely scaled back from its original drafting.

From the piece:

The bill potentially reaching the Senate today has been significantly altered to address the concerns of the motion picture industry, contrary to the language first pushed by Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., equating sexy Hollywood fare with hard-core pornography.

Under Pence’s original amendment, “any book, magazine, periodical, film, videotape or other matter” that contained a simulated sex scene would come under the same government-filing requirements that adult films must meet (HR 3/9).

Currently, any actual filmed sexual activity requires an affidavit that lists the names and ages of the actors who engage in the act. The film is required to have a video label that claims compliance with the law and lists where the custodian of the records can be found. The record-keeping requirement is known as Section 2257, for its citation in federal law. Violators could spend five years in jail.

Pence’s provision expanded the definition of sexual activity to include simulated sex acts like those that appear in many movies and TV shows.

The new bill has scaled back record keeping requirements, but, at the core, it does seem to prohibit a filmmaker from filming a simulated sex scene with an actor under 18.

Again, from the article:

According to a draft of the current legislation obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, the makers of movies and TV programs still would have to keep records that verify the actors involved in simulated sex scenes are over 18, but they wouldn’t have to keep separate records or a different record for every scene. As long as the studios tell the Justice Department that they keep records of performers’ ages under the course of their normal business practices, they will comply with the new language.

Also removed is language that would have subjected makers of movies and TV shows to specific criminal penalties for failing to maintain records of performers’ ages.

The new language also does away with requirements that the films carry labels similar to X-rated movies certifying compliance, removes a prohibition against state and local production incentives for movies with simulated sex and would affect only products made after the law goes into effect. It does not give the Justice Department the right to inspect the records whenever it chooses.

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