Wednesday, June 11, 2008

HBO Polanski documentary changed after 'fabrication' complaint

Roman Polanski

LOS ANGELES (AFP) — A documentary on fugitive director Roman Polanski has been altered after complaints from Los Angeles court officials over a key assertion in the film, US cable channel HBO said Monday.

A statement regarding a judge's action in the film "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired", which spotlights the film-maker's 1978 trial for having sex with a 13-year-old, drew an angry response by the Los Angeles Superior Court.

The initial version of the film said a Los Angeles judge in 1997 had told lawyers Polanski could return to the United States and face no further time behind bars -- provided his sentencing hearing was televised.

However the Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday issued a statement describing the assertion "as a complete fabrication without any basis in fact."

A spokeswoman for HBO later said the wording of the text in the film, due to be premiered in the US for the first time later Monday, had subsequently been changed to reflect the court's complaints.

"We have updated a statement at the end of the film to reflect new information that was provided to us by the court only late last week," a statement from HBO said.

According to the HBO statement, the film's wording says that the judge involved in the case agreed Polanski would serve no more time in custody if he returned to the United States.

"'However the judge insisted that the hearing be held 'in public, on the record and in open court.' Given the possibility that it would be televised, Polanski declined,'" the updated text reads, according to HBO.

The original wording read: "The judge agreed that if Polanski returned to the US, he would serve no more time in custody. On one condition: The judge wanted the proceedings to be televised. Under those circumstances, Polanski declined."

Polanski, 74, remains a fugitive from US authorities, having fled the United States before sentencing. US prosecutors have vowed to arrest him if he ever returned, a fact that prevented Polanski from collecting his best director Oscar for "The Pianist" in 2003.

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