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Even During Hard Times, There Is Hope

July 25, 1994|BRIDGET BYRNE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

"I don't know about it being 'hard times,' but it's certainly an emergency time so we must do all we can do," said Daphna Ziman.

Ziman, whose husband, Richard, is chairman of the board of City of Hope, had arranged for the screening of a film version of Charles Dickens' "Hard Times" to benefit the medical center's AIDS research program.

The movie, made for British television and being shown for the first time in America, was directed by Peter Barnes, who received an Oscar nomination for his "Enchanted April" screenplay. Barnes and Daphna Ziman are adapting the Anthony Burgess book "One Hand Clapping" into a potential movie.

Ziman enthusiastically praised Barnes' talents in "translating and creating literature" for the screen. Also present at the Directors Guild of America, where a reception followed the screening, were directors Peter Medak, for whom Barnes wrote the 1971 movie "The Ruling Class," and John Landis, with whom Barnes worked on a screenplay titled "Cast of Characters."

"We are both film buffs and we can bore everyone with obscure trivia about '50s B movies," Barnes said of his friendship with Landis. "Don't get me started, I'll bore you."

Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen, (who found romance working on Medak's movie, "Pontiac Moon"), British actor David Warner and Millicent and Bob Wise also were among a crowd that was pleased to see a movie that raised moral issues and gave actors such juicy roles.

Filmed on a modest budget of about $1.2 million, the movie was created for the BBC-TV schools program. "I couldn't have done one of those jolly numbers with snow falling," said Barnes, who says he is not usually much of a Dickens fan, but was attracted to the contemporary relevance of this stern critique of Victorian industrialism.

"We all say we care about education, so if we do we should do something about it. The actors understood this was going to be shown to children and teen-agers, so they were prepared to work for modest pay. That was heartening. That gives hope," said Barnes, whose cast included such well-known actors as Alan Bates and Richard E. Grant.

The screening also gave the City of Hope's Beckman Research Institute another $20,000 toward its work in using gene therapy in the fight against AIDS.

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