FIRST OFF . . .
The Portuguese-American Business Assn. of New Bedford, Mass., has started a letter-writing campaign urging local and state officials to ban the new Jodie Foster movie, “The Accused.” It is loosely based on the much-publicized and controversial 1983 case of a woman who was gang-raped on a pool table at New Bedford’s Big Dan’s Tavern. Foster plays the role of a young woman who testified that she was repeatedly raped by six men. Four of the six men in the New Beford case, all of Portuguese descent, were convicted and sentenced to up to 12 years in prison. The local business organization believes that the film will once again focus a negative eye on the Portuguese community and will stir up prejudice against all Portuguese-Americans. “The people of our region need not suffer the injustice of implied guilt . . . as a result of Hollywood’s sensationalism,” said John Miranda, president of the group. After the rape convictions were handed down in 1984, about 10,000 people marched through the streets of Fall River, Mass., protesting the verdict and the bad publicity the trial had thrust on the Portuguese-American community. The Paramount film, which also stars Kelly McGillis as Foster’s attorney, was directed by Jonathan Kaplan and is set to open in Los Angeles Oct. 14.