“An Open Secret” producer upset with MPAA over R rating

A producer of Amy Berg's controversial documentary about child sexual abuse in Hollywood, An Open Secret (pictured), has asked the Motion Picture Association of America to reconsider the film's R rating.
July 15, 2015

A producer of Amy Berg‘s controversial documentary about child sexual abuse in Hollywood, An Open Secret (pictured), has asked the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to reconsider the film’s R rating.

The doc, which is in the midst of a limited theatrical run in the United States, features interviews with former child actors who allege experiences of sexual abuse at the hands of a group of interconnected Hollywood managers and executives. The MPAA has given the doc an R rating for “some descriptions of sexual abuse.”

In a letter addressed to MPAA chairman Christopher Dodd, producer Gabe Hoffman countered that the filmmakers were careful to use “extremely bland language” in descriptions of sexual content to avoid an R, which requires viewers under 17 to attend with an accompanying parent or guardian.

“We were extremely disappointed to find our film – which discusses these issues maturely and carefully – thrown into the same category as films which display gratuitous sex and violence,” he wrote. “I am especially disappointed to think that millions of Americans, both young and old, may be misled by this rating, and conclude that the content of An Open Secret is not appropriate for them – when it most certainly is.

“With this letter, I am simply making a respectful, formal request – for you to personally view An Open Secret, and review this decision,” he continued. “We believe that the facts overwhelmingly support reversing this decision, and awarding An Open Secret the rating which we feel strongly that it deserves, PG-13.”

The MPAA had not replied to a request for comment by press time.

Hoffman, a hedge fund investor-turned-producer, bankrolled the doc’s million-plus budget as well as its independent theatrical roll-out through distributor Rocky Mountain Pictures.

He and coproducer Matthew Valentinas, an entertainment lawyer, are hoping An Open Secret will educate teens and parents around the ways sexual predators “groom” potential victims. They have promised to donate any and all profits from the film to the Courage to Act Foundation, a non-profit they started through the California Community Foundation in order to raise awareness around child abuse in the entertainment industry.

An Open Secret began a limited theatrical run in Seattle and Denver last month and has since opened in New York City. It begins screening in Los Angeles this Friday (July 17).

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.