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Malaysia bans H’wood Noah film as ‘un-Islamic’ Michele, Chand to lead voice cast of Animation’s B’wood

KUALA LUMPUR, April 5, (Agencies): Malaysia has joined other Islamic countries in banning the Hollywood biblical epic “Noah” starring Russell Crowe, decrying it as irreligious and saying it violates Islamic law against depicting prophets. A home ministry official Saturday confirmed that Paramount’s latest big budget film, which has sparked an outcry among Muslim groups worldwide, will not be screened in predominantly Muslim Malaysia. The film has already angered some Christian institutions in the United States over Crowe’s reportedly unconventional portrayal of Noah, who is regarded as an important figure in both Christianity and Islam.

Malaysia’s home ministry’s Film Censorship Board unit chairman Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid said a decision to ban the Noah film was made about two weeks ago. “Yes, I can confirm that it has been banned by the board, the movie can cause quite a lot of anger and distress if it is shown in Malaysia,” he was quoted as saying by The Malay Mail Online.

Abdul Halim said the main reason for the ban was the portrayal of Noah by Crowe, since Islam forbids visual depictions of any prophet. Muslims make up 60 percent of multi-ethnic Malaysia’s 30 million population, while Christians account for about nine percent. Neighbouring Indonesia, Egypt and United Arab Emirates have banned the film because of scenes they say contradict Islam. Malaysia has censored other movies on religious grounds in the past, including Brokeback Mountain and The Passion of the Christ. It has also occasionally pulled the plug on shows by foreign — usually Western — artists out of fear of angering conservative Muslims. Conservatives cry foul over concerts by Western artists whom they accuse of promoting promiscuity, corrupting young people or offending religious sensitivities.

LOS ANGELES: “Glee” star Lea Michele and talented child actor Rohan Chand (“Bad Words”) are nearing deals to voice two of the lead characters in DreamWorks Animation’s musical “Bollywood Superstar Monkey,” multiple individuals familiar with the project have told TheWrap. Representatives for DreamWorks Animation and Michele did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Kevin Lima, the “Enchanted” filmmaker who also directed Disney’s “Tarzan,” signed on in July 2011 to direct from a script by Gurinder Chadha and Paul Berges, who previously co-wrote “Bend It Like Beckham” together. DWA’s first Bollywood-style animated musical adventure is loosely based on the “Ramayana,” an epic Indian tale about a man whose wife is kidnapped by a demon king.

Story follows monkey brothers Raj and Deepu, the latter of whom is younger and will be voiced by Chand. When Raj accidentally releases the ten-headed demon king Ravana from his enchanted sleep, the demon kidnaps Bollywood superstar Chandani. The unlikely sibling heroes then team up with Chandani’s pet monkey Pinki and embark on a thrilling journey to rescue Chandani, save their city and defeat Ravana. Michelle is in negotiations to voice the role of Pinki, though her deal has not closed yet. Lisa Stewart and Chris Chase will produce, while A.R. Rahman (“Slumdog Millionaire”) and Stephen Schwartz (“Wicked”) are working on the film’s music and lyrics, respectively.

Michele, who is best known for playing Rachel Berry on Fox’s “Glee,” recently played Dorothy in “Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return” and appeared in Garry Marshall’s ensemble comedy “New Year’s Eve.” She also just released her first album, “Louder,” and has a book coming out next month titled “Brunette Ambition.” Michele is repped by WME and Untitled Entertainment. Chand is a rising young star who currently stars opposite Jason Bateman in the raunchy comedy “Bad Words.” He got his start playing Adam Sandler’s son in “Jack and Jill” and Damian Lewis’ student on Showtime’s “Homeland.” Chand also shared scenes with Mark Wahlberg in Peter Berg’s “Lone Survivor.”  He’ll soon be seen in DreamWorks’ adaptation of “The Hundred-Foot Journey.” He’s repped by Coast to Coast Talent Group, Paradigm and attorney Derek Kroeger.

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