What does it say about Hollywood sensibilities when not having sex leads to a scandal? Well, that's exactly how Morgan Freeman has caused a dust-up with his current suspense thriller, Along Came a Spider. Though James Patterson's novel of the same name finds his signature gumshoe Alex Cross (Freeman) and federale Jezzie Flannigan (Monica Potter) having a passionate affair, Freeman and director Lee Tamahori decided to make the cops' relationship more paternal in the film version.

"I thought that [the sexual relationship] was the detraction of the book," declares Freeman, who hunts for a deranged kidnapper in this second installment in the Cross series. "In the final analysis, he looked pretty stupid — and not like the bright guy he was supposed to be — if he was being led around by the short hairs."

Spider — which grossed a respectable $16.7 million at the box office last weekend — is facing the same accusations of racism as Kiss the Girls did when it was released in 1997. Had that adaptation stayed true to the novel, Freeman's Cross and Ashley Judd's character also would have scorched up the sheets. Some say it's because Hollywood still can't handle interracial relationships — but Freeman insists it's about plausibility.

"I thought it was better to avoid it than indulge it, and I didn't think that by myself," suggests Freeman, who served as an executive producer on the film. "My fantasy is that if you see Alex Cross fall in love with a woman, you'd expect her to be around a while. If he falls for a woman, it's got to be with some depth."