Thursday September 20, 2012
Actress in anti-Islam film sues producer
LOS ANGELES: An actress in the anti-Islamic trailer that set off violent protests in the Muslim world has sued the reputed producer, saying he duped her into thinking it was about ancient Egyptians.
Cindy Lee Garcia is one of three actresses in the film to have come forward with similar accusations since the explosion of violence that ripped through Muslim countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia last week.
Garcia is suing in a Los Angeles court on grounds of invasion of privacy, fraud, slander and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
She is targeting Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a 55-year-old Egyptian Copt and convicted fraudster - out on parole - who lives in Los Angeles and has admitted to working on the film, "Innocence of Muslims."
US media say Nakoula wrote and produced the film, using the pseudonym Sam Bacile before being identified. He was questioned overnight Friday by police before going into hiding with his family.
Garcia is also suing YouTube and its owner Google for releasing excerpts of the very amateurish film, which was later dubbed into Arabic and made to show Mohammed as a thuggish womanizer.
"Mr. Bacile represented to her that the film was indeed an adventure film about ancient Egyptians," the suit states. Garcia says she later realized it was another thing altogether and that her life was now in danger.
"She has been subjected to credible death threats and is in fear of her life and the life and safety of anyone associated with her," the suit states.
The head of the Christian broadcasting charity Media for Christ, identified as the production company behind the movie, said Tuesday that he, too, had been fooled by the producer. He said he had been told the film would be about "Christian persecution."
Garcia is seeking a permanent injunction removing the video from YouTube and says her career and reputation have been ruined.
Another actress told CNN on Monday she signed on to the project - originally titled "Desert Warrior" with a central character named George - in response to a casting notice on the Craigslist website.
Lily Dionne, who had just arrived in Hollywood to pursue her acting career, said Nakoula appeared on set to be in total control of the project, to the point of arguing with the director at times.
"He had a vision... he wanted things a certain way," she said. "He knew what he was doing. He was playing us all along." Of the plot, she said: "We did wonder what it was about. They kept saying 'George.' Like, this was the Middle East 2,000 years ago. Who's 'George'?"
Later, when the project was in post-production, Dionne and other cast members were called in to record "specific words, like Mohammed, for example. It was isolated. It wasn't in context."
Another actress, Anna Gurji, told how she had auditioned last year for a supporting role in what she called "an indie low-budget feature movie... about a comet falling into a desert and ancient tribes fighting over it..."
"A year later, the movie was dubbed (without the actors' permission), the lines were changed drastically and the movie was morphed into an anti-Islam film," she said.
"Even the names of the characters were changed. And the character I had scenes with, GEORGE, became MUHAMMAD," she added, in a letter to British writer Neil Gaiman, who posted it on his blog (journal.neilgaiman.com).
More than 30 people have been killed in attacks and violent protests linked to the film "Innocence of Muslims", including 12 people who died in an attack by a female suicide bomber in Afghanistan on Tuesday. - AFP