Walt Disney Co. will ban cigarettes in its family films -- and discourage it in others -- especially in itsadult film divisions: Touchstone and Miramax . Naturally, this affects TV, too, as those movies will wind up on TV in some variety.
Still, interesting, flawed characters do smoke cigarettes. What will directors do now? Have a red vine sticking out of an ex-con's mouth?
Additionally, it will be hard for Disney to do a period piece -- from the 1950s and 1960s. In AMC's new series "Mad Men," about an ad agency in 1960, virtually the entire cast are smokers.
Last month, a House subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Edward J. Markey, (D-Mass.), held hearings on movie images and children -- including images of smoking. The Motion Picture Association of America has raise smoking to the status of sex and violence when it comes to addressing suitability of movies for young viewers. I'd ask the MPAA --- what, no alcohol? No fatty foods? Shouldn't there be a law against kids holding an extra large bag of McDonalds French Fries? Trans-fat foods can also kill.
Disney has a family image to maintain -- so banning smoking in those movies isn't risking much. It will be harder for Disney to convince edgy, cool, nerdy film writers and directors to stop the trail of smoke in movies under the Miramax label. Can you imagine seeing a Quentin Tarantino movie without some characters smoking cigarettes?
What will Disney do about TV shows? That wasn't part of the announcement. But not to worry, there is rarely any smoking on TV shows, especially sitcoms. Major questions remain. Will eliminating smoking scenes lead to other bans? Will that make TV and films bland and vapid?
Is there anything else we are missing -- that needs to be missing in TV shows?