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Motown obtains
Dreamgirls disclaimer from studio

Motown obtains
Dreamgirls disclaimer from studio

Responding to complaints that the movie musical Dreamgirls distorted the history of Motown, makers of the Oscar-nominated film said in newspaper ads on Wednesday that the picture was a work of fiction and apologized for any confusion with the legendary record label.

The full-page advertisements paid for by DreamWorks Pictures were published on Wednesday in Hollywood's two major trade papers--Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter--a day after voting on the Academy Awards ended.

The film industry's highest honors will be handed out on Sunday, with Dreamgirls vying in eight categories, including the Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress categories for Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Hudson, respectively.

The film, adapted from the hit Broadway musical of the same name, is loosely based on the story of one of Motown's greatest acts, Diana Ross and the Supremes. But the film has rankled a number of recording artists, writers and others connected with the label who felt Motown was falsely depicted in a negative light, Motown spokesman Paul Freundlich told Reuters.

Their objections led to "amicable discussions" between representatives for Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr., 77, and executives from DreamWorks and its parent studio, Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom Inc. Freundlich said.

Those talks, in turn, resulted in the ads taken out by DreamWorks. The timing of those ads ensured that any misgivings or other fallout from the studio's unusual disclaimer could not affect the outcome of the Oscar race.

"Dreamgirls is a work of fiction. It is also an homage to Motown," the ads state. "For any confusion that has resulted from our fictional work, we apologize to Mr. Gordy and all of the incredible people who were part of that great legacy. It is vital that the public understand that the real Motown story has yet to be told."

The statement does not specify how the film might have confused the public. And a spokesman for DreamWorks declined further comment.

But Motown great Smokey Robinson has complained in recent weeks about film scenes depicting a Gordy-like character played by Jamie Foxx launching his fictional label with money obtained from mobsters and engaging in the illegal practice of "payola," in which music producers pay radio stations to spin their records. Robinson has said Gordy engaged in neither of those activities.

"I applaud Dreamworks and Paramount Pictures for doing their part to clearly differentiate the fictional movie Dreamgirls from the real Motown," Gordy said in a statement. "I wish them all the best in the forthcoming Academy Awards."

Motown is now part of Universal Music Group, a unit of Vivendi (Reuters)

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