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Moore Wearing Scarlet

Home News Tribune — Friday, June 29, 2007

By CARMEN CUSIDO
STAFF WRITER

Photo © 2007 Home News Tribune.

NEW BRUNSWICK — Hats off to Rutgers University at the movies this weekend.

More specifically, hats off to 1990 Rutgers library-studies graduate Ann Sparanese. Michael Moore wears a Rutgers baseball-style cap through much of his new movie, "Sicko," to acknowledge the work of Sparanese, whose 2001 letter-writing campaign he credits with saving his book, "Stupid White Men . . . and Other Excuses for the State of the Nation" – a scathing critique of President George W. Bush and the first years of his administration – a representative of Moore said.

"(Publisher) HarperCollins made the decision that the book was too negative to present right after Sept. 11," said Sparanese Thursday. "Had that book not come out, it would have had a chilling effect on all kinds of books and movies."

Sparanese, a librarian at the Englewood Public Library, initiated a letter-writing campaign among librarians, urging them to write to HarperCollins and insist that the book be published. She first heard of Moore's plight when Moore himself spoke to New Jersey Citizen Action, a citizen watchdog coalition, at the Rutgers Labor Center in December 2001. Since then, Sparanese has been lauded for her effort by groups such as the American Library Association, and Moore himself has credited her with saving his book.

"He sent me a huge bouquet of flowers this December on the fifth-year anniversary of our speaking out," said Sparanese, 60. "He's spoken well of librarians, and he's publicized the things we do. We're on the frontline of First Amendment rights. We don't just sit behind a desk and do reference work."

"Sicko," which opens nationally today, is Moore's expose on the American health-care system. The filmmaker often wears a Michigan State hat in his documentaries, including "Roger & Me" and "Fahrenheit 9/11." Recently, Moore sported his Rutgers cap to the Cannes Film Festival in France and on "The View" TV show.

Sparanese commuted to Rutgers while living at her home in Englewood and raising her family in the late 1980s.

"The library-studies program is one of the highest ranked in the nation," said Rutgers spokesman Greg Trevor. "It's not surprising that someone of Ms. Sparanese's courage and dedication to duty would be a graduate."

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