'The Interview' to get a live reading at New York theater

'The Interview' to get a live reading at New York's Treehouse Theater

Sony's theatrical release of "The Interview" is officially kaput, but a small New York stage company is taking up the cause by hosting a live reading of the movie's screenplay.

The reading, which is being mounted by a group of three New York-based producers and comedians, will be free to the public.

The Treehouse Theater, a relatively new stage company located near New York's Chelsea neighborhood, said on its website that the live reading will take place Saturday at 7 p.m. 

"This is an opportunity for people to come together in the name of free speech, in defiance of all who have threatened it," the theater company said.

The screenplay for "The Interview" was written by Dan Sterling, from a story by Sterling, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. The movie follows two bumbling entertainment journalists who are invited to North Korea to interview Kim Jong Un. When the CIA learns about the trip, they enlist the journalists (James Franco and Rogen) to assassinate the North Korean leader.

Sony Pictures pulled the movie from its planned Christmas release after coming under cyberattack by a group calling itself the Guardians of Peace, which threatened violence in theaters showing the movie.

U.S. officials have blamed North Korea for the cyberattack on Sony, but the isolated Communist regime has formally denied responsibility.

The live reading in New York is being produced by comedians Dave Hensley, Sean Perrotta and Benny Scheckner. None of the movie's original cast is expected to reprise a role in the live event. The cast will consist of veterans of the Upright Citizens Brigade comedy theater company.

In a phone interview, Scheckner said that the idea for the live reading came about when he and the other producers were talking recently about the controversy at Sony.

"We were horrified by the complications this carries for free speech," Scheckner said. He added that they were able to download a version of the screenplay online. "It was not that hard to find." 

The three producers have had no contact with Sony or the screenwriters. They were familiar with the Treehouse Theater because the stage company has produced improv and other comedy events.

"I thought it was a brilliant idea," Rob Reese, a theater director and artistic director of the Treehouse, said in a separate interview. He added that he had no hesitation about hosting the event. 

The live reading will take place in a 50-seat space, and seating will be on a first come, first served basis.

Twitter: @DavidNgLAT 

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