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
"But it's important that we explain our side and help people
understand deaf culture and why we feel this is an injustice,"