The group Tulsa Deaf Pride Now will join a nation-wide protest

Friday on the opening of the film comedy, "Calendar Girl,"

which features a hearing actor in the role of a deaf character.

Glenna Cooper, a spokesperson for the local group, said

members of her organization will picket outside the Annex

and Woodland Hills theaters starting at 8 a.m. Friday until

the theaters close. The nationwide effort is being organized

by the National Association for the Deaf.

Tulsa Picketers will be armed with 2,000 printed leaflets

explaining their side of the controversy. These will be

distributed to patrons entering the theaters, Cooper said.

According to Cooper, Tulsa is among 40 cities across the

country where organized protests are planned against the

Columbia Pictures release.

Outrage over the movie was sparked when producers auditioned

several deaf and hard-of-hearing actors for a small but

pivotal role in the comedy. However, film executives ultimately

cast a hearing actor in the role and then hired a sign language

interpretor to coach that actor.

A Washington Post article quotes NAD spokesperson Bobbie

Beth Scoggins as saying, "Hearing producers think hearing

actors can learn our language (American Sign Language) in

pre-production crash courses and instantly become fluent

enough to project realistic portrayals of deaf people immersed

in deaf culture. This ultimate insult to the intelligence

of deaf people proves continued Hollywood discrimination

exploits our valued life experiences."

"Calendar Girl" is set in 1968 and stars Jason Priestly

as a dreamy young man who travels to Hollywood on a quest

to meet Marilyn Monroe. The supporting part of the comic

hoodlum Arturo Gallo, who is deaf, was eventually given

to Kurt Fuller, a hearing actor.

Producers Penny Marshall and Elliott Abbott maintain that

an honest effort was made to audition deaf and hard-of-hearing

actors, but none were found suitable for the role.

NAD representatives requested but were denied advance screenings

of the movie. In Tulsa, Cooper said she has not yet seen

the film.

"But it's important that we explain our side and help people

understand deaf culture and why we feel this is an injustice,"

she said.