| LOS ANGELES
LOS ANGELES Director Ron Howard on Tuesday defended his film adaptation of "The Da Vinci Code" author Dan Brown's "Angels & Demons" from criticism that it smears the Roman Catholic Church, heightening an ongoing battle over fictional depictions of the Vatican.
Howard, who also directed the 2006 movie adaptation of "The Da Vinci Code," posted a blog at The Huffington Post website saying that neither he nor his new movie "Angels & Demons," which debuts in May and stars Tom Hanks, are anti-Catholic.
"And let me be a little controversial: I believe Catholics, including most in the hierarchy of the Church, will enjoy the movie for what it is: an exciting mystery, set in the awe-inspiring beauty of Rome," Howard wrote.
Howard's post came in response to an opinion piece in the New York Daily News by Bill Donahue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, last week. Donahue accused Brown and Howard of "smearing the Catholic Church with fabulously bogus tales."
Last year, the Catholic Church refused to let "Angels & Demons" be filmed in churches in Rome because of the Vatican's outrage over "The Da Vinci Code."
Howard's drama "Frost/Nixon" was nominated for best picture at the Academy Awards this year, but lost to "Slumdog Millionaire." His other films include "A Beautiful Mind," which won the best picture Oscar and best directing Oscar for 2001, as well as 1995's "Apollo 13."
Brown this week announced that his follow-up novel to "The Da Vinci Code" will be released in September and is titled "The Lost Symbol."
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)