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VENTURA COUNTY ROUNDUP | West County / Ventura

Merchant, Studio to Get Day in Court

October 19, 2000|GAIL DAVIS

A downtown antique dealer's attempt to delay filming of a John Travolta movie until he can negotiate a better deal with the producers, will be heard by a judge this morning.

Filming is scheduled to start today on the Warner Bros. film "Swordfish," starring Travolta as a rogue CIA agent involved in a bank heist, which will be shot at the corner of Main and Oak streets. Scenes will be shot over the next two weeks at the old Bank of Italy building and a bookstore across the street.

Paul Sevoian, owner of Sevoy Antiques, a block east of the filming, said he has already seen a 30% to 40% drop in sales since construction on movie sets began last month. He expects more losses while streets are closed to traffic.

Ray Bowen, Sevoian's attorney, estimated the store owner's losses could reach $100,000.

Warner Bros. Vice President Lisa Rawlins said most of the 110 merchants in the four-block shoot area were offered $1,000 to compensate for any loss of business. She said the studio would compensate them afterward for any additional documented drop in sales.

But Bowen said Sevoian's customers typically come just to shop for high-end antiques and are not likely to make the trip if they can't get to the store. They also might not return in the future, he said.

He and Sevoian seek an agreement with Warner Bros. before shooting starts, he said.

Rawlins said the amount of money Sevoian is seeking is excessive, and that he has not offered any justification for it.

She added that merchants, customers and delivery trucks will be able to reach stores during the shoot.

The set for "Swordfish" will be open to the public between takes, Rawlins said. Also, Warner Bros. is advertising the shoot on local radio stations to draw people to downtown Ventura, she said.

The studio wants to be able to return to Ventura for other films, Rawlins said, and is trying to ensure merchants are pleased with the shoot.

"We work really hard to make sure we don't burn communities," she said. "Warner Bros. has a reputation in the community long after we leave. It's not in our best interests to leave merchants high and dry."

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