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March 16, 1986|Lewis Beale

Taft Entertainment is developing a TV drama for NBC on Philadelphia's MOVE catastrophe (tentative title: "City Under Siege") and it raises sticky issues:

Taft brought dramatic rights from, among others, the ex-police commissioner and the current fire chief. Both have been under fire for their roles in the city-ordered firebombing last May of one of the MOVE cult's households. Eleven died and a square block of homes were destroyed.

Only one resident of the bombed-out block will benefit financially from the movie, as a consultant.

Many Philadelphians regard MOVE as nihilistic terrorists that Hollywood may gloss over. "They represent the absolute worst case scenario that any city in America can face," said Philadelphia Daily News reporter Kitty Capparella, who has signed on as a consultant. "I wanted the movie to be as accurate as possible, not to romanticize the MOVE members. I was extremely wary but these two guys (producer Jim Thebaut and screenwriter Al Ramrus) are as un-Hollywood as I could have imagined."

How cozy are the film makers with the city? Thebaut said, "We're using (mainly) testimony from the MOVE commission, as well as journalism articles, very heavily. The people we're interviewing are filling in coloring, relationships. No one's in our back pocket--believe me."

The movie may be done in Toronto because of reduced labor costs and a less-emotional climate.

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