COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) – Lars von Trier has cut a scene from his latest film that showed a donkey being butchered for food.

Von Trier said he cut the scene from “Manderlay” not because he thought it was cruel, but out of concern that it would draw attention away from the movie’s political and social content.

“I feel that my conscience is clean in regard to animal welfare,” the filmmaker said in a letter he sent to several Danish animal rights groups who had protested the scene.

His production company, Zentropa, said Thursday that the Danish director had received more than 300 letters from groups and individuals in the United States, Germany, Britain and Denmark about the scene, which was shot in Sweden last year.

“The charge made in many of the letters of killing a donkey “for entertainment’ is one that I refute on the grounds that such charges can only originate from ignorance of my films,” he said.

“Manderlay,” expected to be released this summer in Europe, is the second film in von Trier’s trilogy about evil in small-town America during the Depression. The first, “Dogville,” which starred Nicole Kidman, won much acclaim.

DENVER (AP) – Renee Fleming is scheduled to sing a new work by Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally at the opening of the city’s new $86 million Ellie Caulkins Opera House on Sept. 10.

“Heggie, McNally and Fleming are hard at work on the piece. And although they are keeping the subject matter under wraps, we know that Renee is enthusiastic about it,” said Peter Russell, Opera Colorado’s general director.

McNally is writing the libretto and Heggie is writing the music. Their “Dead Man Walking,” based on the book by Sister Helen Prejean about death row, premiered at the San Francisco Opera in 2000.

The new piece for Denver will include a 10-minute vocal work for Fleming.

“With a work by a significant American composer we’re out to make a statement,” Russell said recently. “This commission connects all the dots to honor the past achievements of all three artists involved; at the same time it focuses attention both on the present and future of opera in Denver.”

On the Net:

NEW YORK (AP) – Lindsay Lohan says her father has no right to claim a share of her earnings.

“He didn’t do anything for my career except go out and not come home at night,” the 18-year-old actress-singer tells W magazine in its April issue, on newsstands Friday. “So I don’t think he deserves anything. He doesn’t even deserve my respect.”

Michael Lohan’s estranged wife, Dina, filed divorce papers in January. Lohan responded, saying he wants half of the 15 percent his daughter allegedly gives her mother – a figure that could be $6 million to $7 million a year, his lawyer has said.

Lohan has also said he wants to do a reality TV show that would follow the family through the course of the divorce.

“As sick as it sounds, a reality show might help, actually,” Lindsay Lohan told the magazine. “At least then people could get the truth.”

Michael Lohan was arrested last month after a fiery car crash in the Long Island town of Syosset and was charged with driving while intoxicated. In December, he pleaded guilty to several charges, including assaulting a brother-in-law at a communion party, and was ordered into drug and alcohol treatment and therapy.

Lohan, 44, has said his headline-grabbing problems have helped – not hurt – his daughter’s career.

In the magazine interview, Lindsay Lohan also weighed in on two issues much discussed in the tabloids – her rapid physical maturity and her party-girl reputation.

“I’m young and I only got my boobs, like a year and a half ago, so of course they’re going to look good. I love ‘em,” she said.

Of her “dancing-on-tables” reputation, Lohan said, “I go to clubs and everything, and if I hang out with Paris Hilton, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. She’s a nice girl.”

JONESBORO, Ark. (AP) – Ministers from 20 churches have banded together to protest Nelly’s upcoming performance at Arkansas State University.

“When we started seeing some of the vile and filthy lyrics … we thought we should get involved,” said the Rev. Adrian Rodgers of the Fullness of Joy Church. “Jonesboro is a wonderful city because of what does not come here.”

Rodgers said he was concerned about lyrics that include references to drugs, sex and violence and songs that Rodgers says are demeaning to women. He and the other pastors urged area residents not to buy tickets to the March 12 concert because they are worried that bringing such acts to Jonesboro would lead to problems.

“Tear the tickets up,” Rodgers said. “Do not go and do not allow your children to go.”

Tim Dean, director of ASU’s Convocation Center, where the concert is to be held, said ticket sales have been brisk.

“It would appear that with ticket sales over 5,000, many others have expressed their right and find Nelly’s music entertaining and worth spending their time and money on,” Dean said.

The ministers said that even if they don’t stop Nelly from coming to town, they hope their protests will prevent other rappers from scheduling shows in Jonesboro.

SUVA, Fiji (AP) – Mel Gibson has purchased a Pacific island hideaway in northern Fiji, but the sale may face a legal challenge from villagers who claim their ancestors were forced off the island.

Gibson bought Mago Island from Japan’s Tokyu Corp. for about $15 million. The Fiji government’s Cabinet approved the sale last month, principal lands officer Laisa Raratabu said Wednesday.

“We received all the papers from Mel Gibson’s agents in mid-December last year and approval from the minister (of lands) and endorsement from the Cabinet came on Feb. 9,” she said.

Any legal challenge is likely to be difficult, but a landless tribe of indigenous Fijians say their ancestors were forced from the island in the 19th century – and they want it back.

The 500 tribe members are raising funds to challenge the sale in court, the Fiji Times newspaper reported.

“Our island was sold for 2,000 coconut plants, and stories told by our forefathers are that they were forced to leave at gunpoint,” tribal member Timoci Waqalevu told the newspaper this week.

Raratabu said the purchase documents show that the actor-director wants to turn Mago into a private getaway. “He has stated his intention to retain the pristine conditions of the island,” she said.

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