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Cameraman Critical of 'Twilight Zone' Director

November 05, 1986|MICHAEL D. HARRIS | United Press International

"Twilight Zone" director John Landis was a "yeller and screamer" who felt no responsibility for the people he used in a "very dangerous" war scene that killed actor Vic Morrow and two children, a cameraman testified Tuesday.

"While I was there, I had no sense whatsoever that the people who were running the operation had any sense of care or sense of responsibility for anyone involved, whether it be actors, crew, bystanders," Michael Scott said at the involuntary manslaughter trial of Landis and four associates.

Scott was one of six cameramen who filmed a spectacular Vietnam War scene in which a helicopter fell on top of Morrow, 53, Renee Chen, 6, and Myca Dinh Lee, 7 on July 23, 1982 in rural northern Los Angeles County.

Away From Jury

The cameraman testified outside the presence of the jury because defense attorneys are trying to keep portions of his account from being introduced as evidence at the trial in Los Angeles County Superior Court. Judge Roger Boren has yet to rule on the defense request.

Scott said that Landis was a "yeller and screamer" on the movie set. On more than 50 occasions, Landis gave orders to his crew over a walkie-talkie in such a loud voice that his words became distorted, Scott said.

"He was giving orders . . . things like 'No, no, this is going too slow or that's not the right place' . . . nuts-and-bolts type orders," Scott testified.

Scott, who filmed the fatal scene from atop a cliff, said he thought it would be "very dangerous . . . because it had explosions."

"Whenever you have explosions there is danger involved. This one had lots of explosions, therefore the danger was increased. Whenever you work around a helicopter, there is danger involved.

Danger Increased

"In this case, you had explosions and a helicopter, plus the fact that you had actors working very close to the helicopter and to the explosions. All of that increases, in my opinion, the danger.

"Because of all this, I felt it was a very dangerous scene with all those variables, all those potential hazards there."

Scott said he felt Landis acted "in an irresponsible" manner and added that he also feared for his own safety. He testified that he expressed his concerns to an unidentified special effects person that a fireball from an explosion could reach his position on top of the cliff.

Scott said the special effects person said: "You're going to be up there? Well, I hope your insurance is paid up."

As Landis left the court for the noon recess, his wife Deborah asked him sarcastically, "Did you ruin this guy's (Scott) marriage?" To which the director replied, "I don't even know who he is."

Landis' co-defendants are production manager Dan Allingham, helicopter pilot Dorcey Wingo, associate producer George Folsey and special effects coordinator Paul Stewart.

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