In a run-down theater on a seedy stretch of Hollywood Boulevard this summer, an independent movie made its debut. The acting was amateurish, the dialogue clunky and the costumes no better than those sold for Halloween. Even with a pretty young woman beckoning pedestrians inside, fewer than 10 people attended.
But three months later, the movie — "Innocence of Muslims" — would be blamed the world over for inciting mobs in Egypt and Libya. The movie was filmed and first released in Southern California, but much else about its origins remains a mystery.
A man who identified himself as an Israeli American filmmaker claimed in telephone calls to news outlets Tuesday that he made the movie with backing from wealthy Jewish donors, but there were indications Wednesday that the name and story he gave were false and that the movie was tied to a group of Middle Eastern Christians who live in the U.S. and hold extreme anti-Islamic views.
One activist from Riverside County said the film was produced by naturalized Americans who came from Arab countries. Steve Klein, who said he served as a script consultant, said that he and the producers originally called the movie "Innocence of Bin Laden" in hopes of drawing underground Islamic extremists in the Los Angeles area.