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Filmmaker Tamahori placed on probation in sex case

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LOS ANGELES, Feb 24 (Reuters) New Zealand-born filmmaker Lee Tamahori, arrested last month on a sex charge while wearing a woman's dress and wig, was placed on probation after pleading no contest to a lesser offense of criminal trespass.

Tamahori, 55, best known for directing the James Bond hit ''Die Another Day,'' was also ordered to attend an AIDS education course, according to Frank Mateljan, a spokesman for the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office.

The film director was arrested on January 8 in a police sting operation and charged with prostitution and loitering in a public place. He was accused of offering to perform oral sex on an undercover police officer in exchange for money.

The no-contest plea, equivalent in California to pleading guilty, was entered yesterday on the trespassing charge by Tamahori's lawyer in exchange for prosecutors dropping the more serious charge of prostitution. The loitering count also was dismissed.

Tamahori, who was not at the court proceedings, was placed on three years' probation and ordered to perform 15 days of community service for the Hollywood Beautification Project, Mateljan said.

Tamahori gained notice as a director for the 1994 drama ''Once Were Warriors,'' a film set in New Zealand about a family of native Maori whose lives have been plagued by alcohol, drugs and violence. Tamahori's father is Maori.

He followed that film with the 1950s-era crime drama ''Mulholland Falls'' and ''The Edge,'' a thriller starring Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin.

Tamahori made a splash with 2002's ''Die Another Day,'' which starred Pierce Brosnan as British secret agent 007 and Halle Berry as an American agent named Jinx. The movie raked in more than 430 million dollar worldwide.

His action film ''xXx: State of the Union,'' starring rapper Ice Cube, bombed at the box office last year.

Reuters PDS VP0750

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