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Stone begins filming Sept. 11 rescue drama

The director vows to make a compassionate work. Most of the movie will be shot on a sound stage in L.A.

November 04, 2005|From Associated Press

NEW YORK — Oliver Stone has begun shooting one of the first Hollywood films about Sept. 11 in New York -- without re-creating the large-scale devastation that's all too familiar to residents who lived through the 2001 attacks.

After months of meetings with community and family groups, producers of the untitled movie have promised to tread carefully on sensitive ground. Most of the major action portraying the World Trade Center collapse will be shot on a Los Angeles sound stage. And although news footage of the towers will be shown during the film, it will play on television screens in the background.

"We're not doing the 'Towering Inferno-Titanic' version," said Michael Shamberg, who's producing the Paramount film with his partner, Stacey Sher.

Stone started shooting scenes in New York last month for his untitled film, starring Nicolas Cage as one of two policemen who survived the towers' collapse and were rescued from the trade center ruins after 22 hours.

After holding dozens of meetings, producers decided to limit their filming in the city, shooting the bulk of the action in Los Angeles and staying away from the 16-acre trade center site.

Family members who met with the producers said they still weren't sure whether Hollywood would treat Sept. 11 with proper respect.

"Are there going to be love scenes in it? How do you portray it correctly?" said Lee Ielpi, who lost his firefighter son on Sept. 11, and met with producers about the film. "It has to be done with some reverence."

Others said they were concerned about how Stone -- whose more controversial films include "JFK," which offered conspiracy theories about the Kennedy assassination -- might interpret the attacks in the film. In October 2001, Stone was quoted as referring to the attacks as a "revolt" against multinational corporations.

But in July, Stone said the untitled project would be "a work of collective passion, a serious meditation on what happened, and carries within a compassion that heals.

"It's an exploration of heroism in our country -- but it's international at the same time in its humanity."

Charles Wolf, who lost his wife on Sept. 11, has met with producers and asked to see a copy of Andrea Berloff's script. He said he appreciated the outreach and sensitivity of the filmmakers but wanted to make sure that the day's events, including details as precise as the officers' view of the elevator from the rubble, are represented accurately.

"I think they need to be factual. It's too close in people's minds," Wolf said. " 'Based on a true story' should not happen here."

Because Berloff's script focuses entirely on police officers John McLoughlin and William J. Jimeno's experience on Sept. 11, the film will not interpret the politics or meaning of Sept. 11, the producers said.

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