HOLLYWOOD—The To Do List, starring Aubrey Plaza—whom most people know as "April Ludgate," the slightly-off friend of Parks & Rec's Amy Poehler—is set to be released on Friday, and as that day approaches, Plaza has been making the rounds of the talk shows, promoting the movie.
But one particular interview caught our attention. It was Plaza's appearance on Conan last night, where in discussing the movie, the conversation came around to Plaza's masturbation scene.
Now, understand that in the movie, Plaza's character is Brandy Klark, the valedictorian of her 1993 high school graduating class ... and, as one classmate shouts out as she's delivering her speech, a "virgin." So Brandy decides to compose a "to do list" of all the stuff she thinks she should have done/experienced before entering college ... and sure enough, several of them are sexual.
"Well, I read it on the page and it said 'Brandy masturbates,' and in my head I envisioned a nice scene where you just see my hand slowly go out of frame. That’s what I thought I was going into," she said. "But then when I showed up, the camera was mounted on the ceiling, I was in my underwear and a Clinton T-shirt, and there were a bunch of old men smoking. You know, the crew guys ... I went and touched myself ... in front of America, dude! ... My answer [to Conan's question] is, I thought I was doing one thing, and then when I showed up, it was a whole different thing; it was a full-body shot, and I asked the director, what should I do? And she said, 'Masturbate, like it says in the script.'"
So ... what moviegoers will apparently see on Friday is Plaza on a bed, dressed only in a Clinton t-shirt and panties, with her hand down those panties actually engaging in actual sexually explicit conduct—possibly in violation of the same laws the government wants to bust adult content producers for: 18 U.S.C. §§2257 and 2257A.
There's no doubt that Plaza's actual on-camera masturbation falls under the definitions of "actual sexually explicit conduct" in 2257; the only question is, did CBS Films, the producer of The To Do List, file an "exemption letter" with the Attorney General of the United States, as allowed under 2257A, stating that "such person [in this case, CBS Films] regularly and in the normal course of business collects and maintains individually identifiable information regarding all performers, including minor performers, employed by that person, pursuant to Federal and State tax, labor, and other laws, labor agreements, or otherwise pursuant to industry standards, where such information includes the name, address, and date of birth of the performer," and doesn't market the film in such a way "such that an ordinary person would conclude that the matter contains a visual depiction that is child pornography."
Of course, the vast majority of adult content producers collect and maintain exactly the type of information required by the text of 2257A on performers in their movies, but for some reason, those producers can't simply file a document giving them blanket exemption from 2257's requirements like CBS Films can.
The only question is, did they? Only CBS Films, the Department of Justice—and anyone filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request—know for sure!