Search widened for H’w’d help in Normandy sail

THE U.S. MERCHANT Marine Veterans of World War II have widened their bid to lure Hollywood to their decks, as a local group of volunteer seamen prepare to sail for Normandy, France, in 1994 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of D-day.

The Merchant Marines, currently completing the restoration of the S.S. Lane Victory in the San Pedro Harbor, are looking for Hollywood producers to help them in their historic quest.

The group is preparing to set sail on a tune-up mission to Portland in June, and are hoping a Hollywood producer will shoot action scenes on the S.S. Lane Victory in exchange for the cost of fuel.

“With a big ship, you don’t just start her up and take a few turns around Catalina,” said Tom Clark, a Merchant Marine spokesman. “We probably can’t make the cruise unless we get a producer to shoot action scenes during the trip.”

Hollywood production has already proven to be a key revenue stream for the Merchant Marine Veterans, delivering roughly $ 290,000 of the $ 500,000 to restore the S.S. Lane Victory. “We’d never be anywhere near where we are now, if it had not been for Hollywood productions,” Clark said.

There are some white hats on the horizon. Clark said discussions are currently under way with two movie companies for local shoots later in 1993, and the seamen have also received inquiries from the producers of the television series “Dark Justice.” Nothing firm yet, but the rough-and-tumble volunteers have their fingers crossed.

Down the road (out at sea?), the plans of the Merchant Marines are even more ambitious. The Los Angeles group has teamed with the national organization America Works to accomplish its planned Normandy journey in 1994. The S.S. Lane Victory will join the S.S. Jeremiah O’Brien and the S.S. John Brown in the 50th anni trek.

The trip shapes up as “the last World War II” convoy, according to America Works executive director Tony Seideman. He said the Lane Victory, the O’Brien and the John Brown will sail in formation with escort ships sailing alongside.

Plans are in the works to load World War II vehicles aboard the ships, the 82 nd Airborne will re-enact the France landing and eight heads of state are skedded to appear at the 50th anniversary celebration on June 6, Seideman said.

“The dramatic possibilities are pretty intense,” said Seideman, who is trying to line up documentary filmmakers and a miniseries for the event.

As previously reported, the Merchant Marines are looking to cut an even bigger deal to help them pay for the fuel to make the Normandy voyage. The seamen are looking for a Hollywood production company to sink derelict World War II ships–dummied up to look brand spanking new–for a 1994 production, according to Seideman. For more information, call Clark at (805) 526-0730 or Seideman at (212) 874-1027.

WASHINGTON STATE’S Department of Trade & Economic Development reported that 1992 television, film and commercial production reached a record $ 44.7 million–a 39% increase from the $ 32.1 million tallied in 1991.

During the year, such projects as “Toys,””Singles,””This Boys Life””Sleepless in Seattle” and “The Vanishing” were shot in the state, as well as the television series “Northern Exposure.” In total, television spending accounted for $ 22,580,981 in the year–almost triple the totals for television production in 1991.

In 1993, the Evergreen State has already notched the production of Bernardo Bertolucci’s epic “Little Buddha,” which will land in Seattle for several weeks of shooting later this month. The production is currently lensing in Nepal. For more information on state production, call the Washington State Film and Video Office at (206) 464-7148.

THE NEW MEXICO Film Commission has called for entries in its Film & Video 1994 Personnel/Business Directory, which contains resume information for filmmakers interested in “The Land of Enchantment.”

The 1994 Personnel/Business directory will be divided into four sections–“Rules, Regs & Facts,””Production and Crew,””Related Services” and “Locations.” Deadline for entries is March 15. For more information, call the New Mexico Film commish at (505) 827-7365.

MAMMOTH LOCATION Services director James Vanko is betting that Walt Disney Co.’s coming “Aspen Extreme” will be a draw for the California ski resort, if producers catch on that Mammoth Mountain Ski Area is a double for Aspen in parts of the pic.

Vanko said “Aspen Extreme” did a week of reshoots in the area in November, when the producers decided that it would not be economical to pack up the crew and head for Colorado to add some key racing scenes to the picture. Parts of TriStar Pictures upcoming Memorial Day release “Cliffhanger” were also shot in the state.

“In the past, we’ve doubled for the Himalayas on ‘Indiana Jones’ and ‘The Golden Child,’ Mexico, the Swiss Alps and Jackson Hole, but this is the first time I can remember we doubled for Aspen,” Vanko said. His company is assembling a location portfolio to draw additional producers to the area. For more information, call Vanko at (619) 934-0628.

THE MIAMI-DADE Office of Film Television & Print have trumpeted the January 1994 booking of The National Association of Television Program Executives by the Greater-Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, and announced plans to bring the local film industry in as hosts of the event.

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