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Protesters Shut Down Filming of Controversial ‘Midnight Caller’ Episode

October 26, 1988

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ About 400 chanting protesters forced producers briefly to stop filming an episode of a television show that was to feature the revenge killing of a bisexual man who spreads the AIDS virus. The episode was rewritten to eliminate the killing, producers said.

The protesters Tuesday night appeared to disobey a temporary restraining order obtained by the producers of ″Midnight Caller″ that ordered them to stay at least 100 feet from filming and to remain silent.

Instead, protesters shouted slogans such as ″Act up, fight back, fight AIDS,″ and engaged in an hourlong faceoff with about 50 police officers until filming was called off at 8 p.m.

Executive Producer Bob Singer of Lorimar Productions said the company was able to finish shooting its scheduled sequences later Tuesday night and expected to continue until the shooting is completed Thursday.

The show, which has been filming here for several weeks, features a detective who becomes a radio talk show host. The controversial episode concerns a man with AIDS who continues to have unsafe sex. Originally, the script had the man being killed by a former lover.

Earlier, producers said they had agreed to change the script to show that the murder was not condoned. But Singer said today that the script was revised yet again to show the murder being prevented and the man with the virus escaping.

AIDS Foundation spokesman Rene Durazzo said protesters do not object to an episode about the AIDS epidemic, but ″want an accurate portrayal of the AIDS crisis″ not an episode they fear will ″promote irrational fear and ignorance.″

Protesters had said the show could incite violence against AIDS victims.

Singer said that because the company was able to resume filming, producers had no immediate plans to return to the court to seek further action to enforce the temporary restraining order.

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