News, Feb. 18: “Capturing the Friedmans'” Victims Send Letter to Academy, First Lady Wants To Catch “Passion,” Lohan Seeks Truce With Duff, More…

Top Story: “Capturing the Friedmans'” Victims Send Letter to Academy

Two men whom Jesse Friedman pleaded guilty to sexually abusing as boys have written an open letter to Academy Awards voters speaking out against the Oscar-nominated documentary, Capturing the Friedmans, The Associated Press reports. The film, which won the documentary grand prize at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival and was named best nonfiction film by the New York Film Critics Circle, looks into the life of the Friedman family whose world is transformed when the father, Arnold, and his youngest son, Jesse, are arrested and charged with molesting dozens of children during computer classes in their Long Island home. “If this film does win an Oscar, it will be won at the expense of silencing the plaintive voices of abused children once again, just as our own voices were silenced 16 years ago by the threats and intimidation of our tormentors, Arnold and Jesse Friedman,” the victims, now in their 20s, wrote. But director Andrew Jarecki defended the film, saying it was a balanced piece. “The film doesn’t exclude that perspective in the slightest,” he said Tuesday. “I didn’t set out to make an advocacy film for the Friedmans, and I didn’t make one.” But 34-year-old Jesse Friedman, who was 19 when he pleaded guilty to the sex abuse charges in 1988, is seeking a new trial to overturn his conviction based on information revealed in the documentary.

First Lady Wants To Catch Passion

First lady Laura Bush, who was in Bentonville, Ark., visiting a high school, said Tuesday she would like to see The Passion of the Christ, which opens Feb. 25, Reuters reports. “I think it sounds very interesting and I’d like to see it,” the first lady said after being asked by reporters if she planned to see the film. Directed by Mel Gibson, The Passion of the Christ depicts the last 12 hours in Christ’s life. Jewish leaders have condemned the film, calling it anti-Semitic propaganda that threatens Judeo-Christian harmony, while evangelists say it is the most effective tool for spreading the teachings of Jesus Christ in more than 2,000 years.

Lohan Wants Truce With Duff

Forget about the Kelly OsbourneChristina Aguilera feud–that’s so yesterday–the newest Hollywood warfare is between Freaky Friday‘s Lindsay Lohan and Cheaper by the Dozen star Hilary Duff, as reports would have it. But according to Lohan, reports that Duff asked her to leave the premiere of Cheaper by the Dozen after a spat have been greatly exaggerated. “I mean, she’s doing great. I’m a fan of hers. My sister loves her,” the 17-year-old Lohan told Diane Sawyer Tuesday on ABC’s Good Morning America. “I just wanted to let her know I have no problems and neither should she. We were friends.” Lohan described the fight with Duff, 16, as “a high school thing.”

Conan O’Brien “Apologizes” to Quebecers

Late Night host Conan O’Brien issued a tongue-in-cheek apology Tuesday over a segment on his show in which Triumph the Insult Comic Dog insulted the population of the French-Canadian province of Quebec. “People of Quebec, I’m sorry,” O’Brien said, as a translator recited in French, with English subtitles, “People of Quebec, I’m an albino jackass.” O’Brien continued, “We meant no harm with our comedy piece the other night … I was a stranger in a strange land and I was very insensitive,” he continued, with the subtitle: “The other night, I wet the bed like a little girl … I have a small penis.” The controversial jokes were made while O’Brien‘s taped a series of shows in and around Toronto to help boost that city’s profile in the wake of last year’s SARS outbreak.

Guns N’ Roses Could Block Greatest Hits Release

Sources tell that Guns N’ Roses’ did not give consent for Geffen Records to release a new greatest hits compilation on March 23 and may pursue legal action to block its release. The album, which consists of 14 hit singles including “Welcome to the Jungle,” “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” “Patience,” “Paradise City” and a cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” from the Interview With the Vampire soundtrack. Guns N’ Roses, whose only original member left is Axl Rose, returns to the live stage May 30 at the Rock in Rio-Lisbon festival in Lisbon, Portugal–the group’s first live appearance since a disastrous 2002 comeback tour, which was canceled with 13 dates remaining because of an unspecified illness.

Marilyn Manson Settles Civil Suit

Marilyn Manson has learned that gyrating his crotch on someone else’s head is not a good idea. Security guard Joshua Keasler, who sued Manson in U.S. District Court in Detroit for sexual assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress, claimed the shock rocker wrapped his legs around his neck and gyrated against him while wearing only a leather thong and pantyhose during a July 2001 performance in Detroit. The AP reports the suit was dismissed after Manson and Keasler reached a settlement, but both sides agreed not to release terms of the settlement. Manson pleaded no contest in 2002 to disorderly conduct and assault and battery in the same incident. At the time, Manson, whose real name is Brian Warner, was ordered to pay $4,000 in fines and costs.

Don’t Shake Your Polaroid Pics, Company Warns

Contrary to Andre 3000’s instructions to “shake it like a Polaroid picture,” the instant camera maker does not want consumers to jiggle their snapshots. In the “answers” section on the Polaroid Web site, the company says that shaking photos, which once helped them to dry, is not necessary since the current version of Polaroid film dries behind a clear plastic window, Reuters reports. The image “never touches air, so shaking or waving has no effect,” the company explains on its Web site. “In fact, shaking or waving can actually damage the image. Rapid movement during development can cause portions of the film to separate prematurely, or can cause ‘blobs’ in the picture.” Outkast’s hit single “Hey Ya,” which includes the “shake it” line as a reference to the motion that users do to help along the self-developing film.