The original plans for The Last Temptation of Christ envisioned a European premiere at the 1988 Venice Film Festival and then an American premiere on 23 September 1988 at the New York Film Festival. Then fate intervened. In June 1988 Universal's consultant Tim Penland resigned, returning to his evangelical roots to mastermind a fierce fundamentalist attack on the film, the studio, and Scorsese. The tone for the ensuing controversy was set by director Franco Zeffirelli, who was widely quoted as assailing "the Jewish cultural scum of Los Angeles which is always spoiling for a chance to attack the Christian world" for commissioning The Last Temptation of Christ. Zeffireli later denied he had made these remarks, yet he redoubled his attacks on the film and the filmmakers, causing a brouhaha at the Venice festival.