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"Brokeback" too controversial after all - writer

Written by: Staff

LOS ANGELES, Mar 6 (Reuters) Maybe a gay cowboy picture was too controversial after all, or at least that is what the legendary Western writer who adapted ''Brokeback Mountain'' for the screen thinks.

''Perhaps the truth really is, Americans don't want cowboys to be gay,'' said Larry McMurtry, 69 who has spent his career challenging the stereotypes of the West -- and generally won.

McMurtry won the Oscar for best adapted screenplay with his partner Diana Ossana, but their film lost the prize for best picture to ''Crash'', a drama about urban racism.

The quirky Texan who is building one of the largest used book store complexes in the world in a rural town in his home Lone Star state wore jeans along with a tuxedo jacket to the Academy Awards.

''I always wear jeans,'' he explained.

McMurtry has had critical and commercial success exploring the gritty real-life West in a series of iconic works such as Pulitzer Prize-winning ''Lonesome Dove,'' an epic tale of cowboys on a cattle drive.

''I'm a critic of the myth of the cowboy,'' he told the New York Times in 1988. ''People need to believe that cowboys are simple, strong and free, and not twisted, fascistic and dumb, as many cowboys I've known have been,'' he added at the time.

''Brokeback'' is based on a short story by Annie Proulx which follows the lives of two cowboys who fall in love as young men one summer herding sheep on Brokeback Mountain.

''It's the same West,'' as ''Lonesome Dove'', he said on the red carpet going into the festivities. ''Always a lot of loneliness in the West.'' McMurtry's writing partner Ossana, who also produced the film with James Schamus, called the night ''bittersweet''.

McMurtry said voters had rejected his own rural-themed movies, which include ''Brokeback Mountain'' and ''Last Picture Show,'' and ''Texasville'' but gave the more urban-themed ''Terms of Endearment'' an Oscar.

Reuters DKS VP1232

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