Iconic Looney Tunes cartoon character Pepe Le Pew has been axed from the upcoming Warner Bros. theatrical sequel Space Jam: A New Legacy, starring LeBron James, according to reports.
A scene in which the cartoon character Pepe Le Pew hits on a woman, gets a drink thrown on him, and has a restraining order filed against him, has been cut from the Space Jam sequel, according to a report by Deadline.
Deadline details the purported scene as follows:
Pepe was set to appear in a black-and-white Casablanca-like Rick’s Cafe sequence. Pepe, playing a bartender, starts hitting on a woman at the bar played by [Greice Santo]. He begins kissing her arm, which she pulls back, then slamming Pepe into the chair next to hers. She then pours her drink on Pepe, and slaps him hard, sending him spinning in a stool, which is then stopped by LeBron James’ hand.
James and Bugs Bunny are looking for Lola, and Pepe knows her whereabouts. Pepe then tells the guys that Penelope cat has filed a restraining order against him. James makes a remark in the script that Pepe can’t grab other Tunes without their consent.
Upon learning her scene with Pepe Le Pew was cut from the Space Jam sequel, actress Greice Santo was upset. Santo says she’s a victim of sexual harassment herself and reportedly “took joy” in shooting the scene with Pepe because the skunk gets his comeuppance.
“This was such a big deal for Greice to be in this movie,” a spokesperson for Santo told Deadline. “Even though Pepe is a cartoon character, if anyone was going to slap a sexual harasser like him, Greice wished it would be her.”
“Now the scene is cut, and she doesn’t have that power to influence the world through younger generations who’ll be watching Space Jam 2, to let younger girls and younger boys know that Pepe’s behavior is unacceptable,” the spokesperson added.
The news of Pepe’s firing comes after the French skunk was slammed by New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow, who said in a recent op-ed that the cartoon character has “normalized rape culture.”
The decision to cut Pepe from the Space Jam sequel, however, was made “a while ago,” and has nothing to do with the NYT op-ed, according to Deadline.