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CARRES Coalition Alerts Parents to Shark Tale Violence and Stereotyping

Calls for National Boycott of Marketing Partners

WASHINGTON, DC - Sept. 24, 2004 ­ The Coalition Against Racial, Religious and Ethnic Stereotyping (CARRES) today alerted parents to the violence and ethnic stereotyping in DreamWorks' soon-to-be-released animated children's movie, Shark Tale and called for a national boycott of all products that promote the film and its characters.

The movie is about a fish named Oscar, who gets involved with gangster sharks and killer whales. The gangster-fish have Italian names and are voiced by Robert DeNiro, Martin Scorsese and actors from The Sopranos. It premieres nationally Oct. 1, the first day of Italian American heritage month.

Shark Tale is a production of DreamWorks SKG, owned by Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen. To promote it, DreamWorks formed partnerships with some of the nation's largest corporations, including Coca-Cola and Burger King.

Since January CARRES has petitioned DreamWorks to change the names of the gangster characters and remove Italian expressions from the dialogue. It also has written to the movie's corporate sponsors asking them not to promote the film.

"Since our requests fell on deaf ears, we are calling for a boycott of Coca-Cola, Burger King, Krispy Kreme, General Mills, Hasbro Toys and Activision, the movie's principal marketing partners," says CARRES spokesperson Dona De Sanctis.

It is the first time that the major Italian American organizations have called for a national boycott to protest the defamation of people of Italian heritage.

Italian Americans represent the fifth largest ethnic group in the United States, numbering 16 million according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

CARRES is composed of more than 25 ethnic organizations, including all the major national Italian American organizations:

"Shark Tale is a kid's version of GoodFellas," says CARRES member John Mancini, chairman of the Italic Institute. "We are profoundly disappointed in Steven Spielberg who chooses to negatively influence children's minds this way."

"Shark Tale will be translated into many languages and reproduced on DVDs," says OSIA National President Joseph Sciame "The characters will be in video games, on cereal boxes and fast-food meals all over the world."

Referring to the movie's corporate partners, UNICO National President Michael Mariniello notes, "How could these otherwise socially responsible corporations, whose businesses are sustained by American families of every racial and ethnic background, be a party to such a reactionary movie based on ethnic caricatures? It literally takes America back to the 1940s."

Lawrence Auriana, president of the Columbus Citizens Foundation, targeted Spielberg's role. "Despite his enlightened statements about stereotyping, Spielberg has allowed DreamWorks to produce the first children's movie in at least 25 years that promotes bias. By supporting this movie, Spielberg is being hypocritical." Auriana's foundation, which organizes New York City's annual Columbus Day Parade, banned members of the cast of The Sopranos from marching in the 2002 parade.

U.S Congressman, Bill Pascrell Jr (D-NJ) contacted DreamWorks on Jan. 9 and again on Sept. 8, requesting a review copy of the film before its Oct. 1 national premiere. "I am concerned that the character images of this film do not meet a wholesome standard and will instill societal prejudices in our children," he wrote.

To download the CARRES boycott brochure Click Here. This brochure may be copied and distributed.

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