Channels showed porn, not his comedy, ex-SC legislator says

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COLUMBIA - A former South Carolina lawmaker is suing cable TV channels HBO and Showtime, claiming they promoted his low-budget comedy about Appalachia called The Hills Have Thighs only to instead show a soft-core pornographic movie with the same title.

James "Bubba" Cromer said the mix-up defamed him and caused emotional distress, according to a lawsuit filed Monday in Los Angeles. He accuses HBO and Showtime of negligence and is seeking unspecified damages.

How the legal action came about is its own Hollywood story.

It started as Cromer and his father surfed the TV listings on March 1 as they waited for his mother to finish her bridge game. The Columbia lawyer saw The Hills Have Thighs was set to make its television debut on The Movie Channel, which is owned by Showtime. He said the listing included the description of his movie and the names of its actors.

It was the first Cromer had heard about it, but he had recently hired a talent agent to promote his work. And the 1:30 a.m. premiere was just hours away. So he called the cast of the film, his friends and family to tell them to set their digital recorders. He wrote to his more than 4,000 friends on Facebook: "The Hills Have Thighs is on The Movie Channel all month!!!"

Cromer said he stayed up late even though he had to be in court at 8:30 a.m. and in the South Carolina House a few hours later, where he serves as reading clerk. Before the movie came on, Cromer said he heard a voiceover: "Bubba Cromer later tonight does it again with his second feature film The Hills Have Thighs. Deliverance in reverse."

"All my words," Cromer told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "I got on my floor and I crossed myself because that was a dream come true."

Then the appointed hour arrived, with a surprising plot twist: "I saw a set of thighs and realized instantly that wasn't my movie."

Instead of his "hysterical Appalachian comedy," it showed the film directed by Jim Wynorski, a longtime cult favorite and director of exploitation films with plenty of skin and risque turns on popular movie titles, such as the The Da Vinci Coed and The Witches of Breastwick.

The plot is pretty straightforward for its genre, according to its current Showtime listing: "A group searches the desert for a missing friend but instead find a trio of crazed, sex-starved mutant women."

Cromer said he spent a long, sleepless night answering phone calls, e-mails and text messages. Some were from Cromer's colleagues in the House, whom he had told to watch. Several rebuked him, asking if he had lost his mind and accusing him of embarrassing the chamber.

"It's been the most disturbing and frightening thing that has happened to me," Cromer said.

Cromer said the movie also showed later in the month with the wrong listing on Cinemax, which is owned by HBO, though HBO disputes that.

HBO spokesman Jeff Cusson said all references on Cinemax were to Wynorski's film, not Cromer's. Officials at Showtime didn't immediately responded to a message seeking comment.

Cromer, a 46-year-old attorney, spent the first couple of years of his law career in Los Angeles with a writing sample under his arm, then got homesick and came back home to South Carolina. He was the first independent elected to the South Carolina House since Reconstruction. He stepped aside after eight years to become the chamber's reading clerk.

But there was another itch he needed to scratch. So he made a fictional documentary called The Long Way Home: A Bigfoot Story and a year later he directed his second film, The Hills Have Thighs, financing the movie himself.

The film's Web site said it is the story of the disappearance of "a local hillbilly icon named Daniel Boone Owen, who vanishes one night after a corn liquor-induced stupor." It pokes fun at Appalachian stereotypes, including the invasion of "limousine liberals" from outside the state.

Cromer has not spoken with the makers of the 2010 version of The Hills Have Thighs. He referred questions about why he didn't sue the people involved with the other film to his lawyer, Patricia Millett, who didn't immediately respond to a message.

A phone listing for Wynorski was not immediately found and he did not immediately respond to messages left on his Facebook and MySpace pages.

The agitation in Cromer's voice was evident as he talked about the lawsuit Tuesday.

"Associating my name with pornography is the last thing I would ever do," Cromer said. "That's just nuts. I could care less about marketing. I want my name back."

___

Cromer's The Hills Have Thighs site: http://www.thehillshavethighs.com/

Showtime: http://www.sho.com/

HBO: http://www.hbo.com/

Jim Wynorski's MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/jimwynorski

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themaninthemirror
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themaninthemirror 03/24/10 - 12:41 pm
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I saw some of those thighs

I saw some of those thighs one night in the hills of North Carolina. I have been a mountain man ever since.

Taylor B
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Taylor B 03/24/10 - 01:01 pm
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LOL

LOL

corgimom
38720
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corgimom 03/25/10 - 06:59 am
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This is the funniest thing I

This is the funniest thing I have ever heard!

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