Deadline has learned that Pepe Le Pew will not be appearing in the upcoming LeBron James-led sequel, Space Jam: A New Legacy. His removal from the film allegedly has nothing to do with a recent piece from Charles M. Blow of the New York Times, where he asserts that the character “normalized rape culture.”
The scene was filmed prior to the departure of New Legacy original director, Terence Nance, in 2019 over creative differences. Nance’s replacement, Malcolm D. Lee, left the scene on the cutting room floor, and didn’t bother adding animation to the shot. According to Deadline, those who saw a rough cut of the film three months ago didn’t spot Pepe Le Pew.
The scene is described as “a black-and-white Casablanca-like Rick’s Cafe sequence” starring Jane the Virgin actress Greice Santo and Pepe Le Pew as a bartender. Santo is none too interested in Pepe’s advances towards her, which involve him employing his old tricks, like kissing her arm. Santo pulls her arm back, slams Pepe in the chair next to her, and pours her drink on him.
Pepe gets slapped so hard by Santo that he goes spinning in a stool, which is stopped by LeBron, who is with Bugs Bunny looking for Lola. After informing them about Lola’s whereabouts, Pepe tells them that Penelope Cat has filed a restraining order against him. In the script, James responds by telling Pepe that he can’t grab other Tunes without their consent.
A spokesperson for Greice said the actress was upset to learn that the scene was cut. Griece has been outspoken about being sexually harassed in the past. Her experiences led to the creation of the non-profit organization, Glam with Greice, which aims to empower victims of domestic violence to change their lives for the better.
“This was such a big deal for Greice to be in this movie. Even though Pepe is a cartoon character, if anyone was going to slap a sexual harasser like him, Greice wished it would be her,” the statement reads. “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.”