The Muslim outrage that led to the fatal attack on the California-native U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, might very well have begun right here in Hollywood.
The filmmaker who calls himself Sam Bacile might have made the source of some Muslims' ire, Innocence of Muslims (video after the jump), in the Los Angeles area, according to the U.K.'s Guardian newspaper. The Atlantic indicates Bacile might be a pseudonym and that 15 people, mostly "evangelicals," could be associated with the movie (more below).
That Guardian says that (warning, disturbing photo of Stevens after the jump) ..
... Bacile raised $5 million for the film he says portrays his belief that "Islam is a cancer," in the words reported by Associated Press and the Wall Street Journal.
The film remains about as much of a mystery as the man; no one outside its makers and performers apparently has seen it. It was, in fact, the YouTube trailer that seemed to set people off in Libya.
The Atlantic interviewed a Riverside man, a "self-described militant Christian activist" named Steve Klein, who said ...
... that Bacile, the producer of the film, is not Israeli, and most likely not Jewish, as has been reported, and that the name is, in fact, a pseudonym. He said he did not know "Bacile's" real name.
... He said that there are about 15 people associated with the making of the film ...
Most, Klein told the mag, were "evangelical."
The two-hour version reportedly depicts Mohammed as a fraud who approved of child abuse.
Those, of course, are huge insults to many Muslims, fighting words even. (Not to mention the actors in brownface and wearing fake beards). What's more, some Muslims in the Middle East don't differentiate between products of Hollywood and the official word of the U.S. government.
NPR says Bacile, who represents himself as an Israeli Jew, raised the cash from 100 fellow people of the Jewish faith.
But the Jewish Journal reports that no one in Hollywood or the L.A. Jewish community seems to know who he is.
Those outlets who have interviewed him, AP and the Wall Street Journal, say he's a California real estate mogul on the run.
But the Jewish Journal says real estate folks don't know him, either.
And the paper doubted the film's reported $5 million cost, quoting one expert as saying it looked more like a $25,000 production.
In any case, let's just hope this little flick didn't just set off World War III.
[Added at 4:34 p.m.]: Gawker's Adrian Chen talked to one of the actors in the film. She says she was misled about the aim of the work and had no idea it would turn out to comprise anti-Muslim propaganda. The Gawker report indicates that some parts of the film were dubbed over to sound more anti-Muslim.
CNN got a joint statement from the whole cast:
The entire cast and crew are extremely upset and feel taken advantage of by the producer. We are 100% not behind this film and were grossly misled about its intent and purpose. We are shocked by the drastic re-writes of the script and lies that were told to all involved. We are deeply saddened by the tragedies that have occurred.
Meanwhile the Los Angeles Times (via LA Observed) dug up some background on the above Klein, noting ...
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, had no record of Sam Bacile, but had a lengthy file on Steve Klein. The group's file on Klein described him as an ex-Marine who had been active in anti-Muslim and extremist groups for decades.
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[Added at 5:05 p.m.]: The Los Angeles Times reports that there was a Hollywood screening for the film in June ... and almost nobody showed up.
The film -- which was then called "Innocence of Bin Laden" -- was shown on June 23 to an audience of less than 10 at a theater on Hollywood Boulevard, a source familiar with the screening said.
An "attractive" woman stood on Hollywood Boulevard and tried to interest passers-by in the movie, but got few takers, the source said.