Manny Pacquiao Barred From 'Extra' Interview at the Grove After Bashing Gay Marriage
Mario Lopez, right, is a longtime friend of Manny's.
[Update, May 16, 10:30 a.m.: Pacquiao's original interviewer, Granville Ampong, is now saying that he himself quoted Leviticus 20:13 in his article -- so the words "put to death" never came out of Pacquiao's mouth. And the boxer tells ABS-CBN that "I only gave out my opinion that same sex marriage is against the law of God... I didn't know that quote from Leviticus because I haven't read the Book of Leviticus yet." For further explanation, see "The Manny Pacquiao Misquote: A Timeline."]
[Update, 8:30 p.m.: Pacquiao is "not welcome at The Grove and will not be interviewed here now or in the future." Full statement on Page 2.]
[Update, 6:50 p.m.: "We're canceling the event," says Grove spokesman Bill Reich. "Manny Pacquiao is not coming to the Grove." And thus the backlash begins.]
But mall executives tell LA Weekly that the event may be called off.
Pacquiao told the National Conservative Examiner over the weekend that gay men should be "put to death" for their sexual crimes. Yes, he was quoting Leviticus 20:13, but he hasn't backed down from his harsh stance during the negative media storm that has followed. And a post on the boxer's blog says that these are indeed "Manny Pacquiao's official feelings on the subject."
Meanwhile, potential mayoral candidate Rick Caruso, who owns the Grove, wants nothing to do with the bigotry. [Correction: Caruso has not officially declared he's running for mayor.]
When we called his corporate offices today, Caruso's people hadn't seen the Pacquiao quote. But when we read it back to Galit Shokrian, head of marketing and communications, she said that the Grove likely "wouldn't allow" Pacquiao to be interviewed on premises if he had indeed said such a thing.
Bill Reich, VP of corporate affairs for Caruso (and manager of the Extra account), called us immediately afterward. When we told him what Pacquiao said, Reich replied: "I got to figure this out. That's not good."
There was also some confusion over Extra's official schedule. "We weren't even aware that he's showing up," said Shokrian. Extra's website has Lisa Marie Presley in the 3 p.m. slot.
Although Pacquiao hails from the very religious, conservative Phillipines, he lives and trains in Los Angeles -- an urban, forward-thinking haven for the gay community. For the sports star to announce that he thinks thousands of gay Angelenos should be "put to death" for loving a same-sex partner should hugely alienate him to the locals. Not to mention alienate him politically to President Obama and the United States, whose official gay-marriage stance recently switched to a big fat thumbs up.
One sarcastic Twitter user replied to Mario Lopez: "Since @MannyPacquiao likes to talk politics, might as well ask him why he thinks gay men should be killed."
Rick Jacobs, founder and chair of the Courage Campaign, told LA Weekly earlier today that "American sponsors are going to have to look very carefully about whether they can continue to pour money into his apparently rather empty soul. Not only does [Pacquiao] live in L.A., he makes a lot of money thanks the United States and sponsors here in particular."
We'll post an update as soon as we know the official status of Pacquiao's interview at the Grove tomorrow. Will Caruso take a stand?
If the boxer does show up, we're thinking a mob of TV news cameras and angry LGBT activists may be there to greet him.
UP NEXT: The Grove's statement in full, which suggests that Pacquiao is also barred from all future interviews at the L.A. mall.
Below, the Grove's explanation as to why Pacquiao isn't welcome at its Fairfax campus. Ever. Again.
"Based on news reports of statements made by Mr. Pacquiao we have made it be known that he is not welcome at The Grove and will not be interviewed here now or in the future. The Grove is a gathering place for all Angelenos and not a place for intolerance."
We wouldn't be surprised if this un-endorsement becomes the first of many. Pacquiao has an insane amount of high-profile athletic sponsors, including Hewlett-Packard and Hennessy, who probably don't want to align themselves with such extreme anti-gay sentiments.
Because... uh... "put to death"? You just don't say that kind of thing in 21st century America.
And he always seemed like such a nice guy. Here's the boxer in an interview with Mario Lopez a couple years back, talking about (what else?) his faith:
Creepy yet completely unrelated fact: Pacquiao and Lopez each have 463,000-odd followers on Twitter. And as of Tuesday night, they both have yet to acknowledge to those followers that their get-together at the Grove might not go down as planned.
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