‘Danger’ scenes evoke déjà vu

GOOD MORNING: Is art imitating life or is life imitating art? The timing was incredible! On stages 10 and 7 at Sony Studios, Paramount’s “Clear and Present Danger” is filming sequences that look as if they came out of this week’s news. On Stage 10, Harrison Ford, as Jack Ryan, acting deputy director of the CIA, is working in an accurate reproduction of the CIA’s counter-narcotics center. Over $ 5 million in high-tech equipment is being used in the movie to track down, via Sonograph, one of the drug lords in the Colombian-set story by Tom Clancy. This very same system was the one by which Pablo Escobar, leader of the Medellin drug cartel, was finally located last week with the technological assistance of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Meanwhile, next door on Stage 7, a second unit of “Clear and Present Danger” is filming a sequence in which the president, played by Donald Moffat (as a combination Reagan-Bush-Clinton) and Harris Yulin, as national security adviser, are talking the covert activities of the government in a foreign country — activities not sanctioned by Congress — and activities about which the president, theoretically, knew nothing. It’s another fictionalized version of revelations currently being released about the past administrations and Iran-Contra. The movie is set in 1994. When I noted the fortuitous timeliness, Harrison Ford laughingly reminded, “Audiences may think, ‘We’ve already seen this’!” Director Philip Noyce was bounding between the two stages — when not looking at monitors of both — to check everything. His second unit director, David Ellis, is reining (for the first time) a dramatic scene, sans action, this one between the president and national security adviser (Moffat and Yulin) with cameraman Michael Benson. Don McAlpine is the movie’s director of photography on Stage 10. Producer Mace Neufeld is also bicycling between the two stages — he and director Noyce had made a secret trek to Colombia and Medellin before filming and before getting complete cooperation from our government to make this movie about the incredible world of drugs. They were helped in getting government accuracy, said Noyce, as their researcher Carol Anne Blinken’s father, Alan, is ambassador to Belgium. Noyce also told me he is taking particular care in the movie “to treat the office of the president with respect”… The enormous technical input is overseen by ex-Douglas Trumbull associate Lis Kern, associate producer.

THEY’RE SAVING ACTION sequences — running, falling, fighting, etc. — for Harrison Ford’s final scenes in Mexico. “For some, this might be hard,” smiled Ford, “but it’s easy for me.” He even looks forward to working in the jungle, claims he loved “Mosquito Coast” in Belize heat. He also digs the native food of rice and beans! He looks to be in great shape and is mostly recuped from his knee injury in “The Fugitive.” As a matter of fact he told me he’s looking forward to another in the “Raiders” movies and a script’s now in the works.”I love to be able to do those kind of movies — for total family enjoyment,” said Ford. As for the current “Clear” danger he says the original Tom Clancy book had to be drastically changed as his Jack Ryan character didn’t come in until halfway into the story. Neufeld said he had a pleasant meeting with author Clancy a month ago. Neufeld and partner Bob Rehme have first look at Clancy’s next book due next month. What about past confrontations with the author? “Well, ” said Neufeld, “if Rabin and Arafat can get together — I suppose we can”… Noyce said the hit European version of his “Sliver” will get a release in the U.S. in a year. He admits he and Joe Eszterhas chose the domestic finale –“And not Paramount, we’re responsible for it.”

STEVEN SPIELBERG SCREENED his “Schindler’s List” at the Wiesenthal Center Sunday night for family and close friends (including Harrison Ford). The most gratifying thing to him, says Spielberg, is the reaction from the actual survivors who tell him how much the movie means to them. He plans to go to Germany when the movie opens there. He believes “the German people are ready for it.” He will also p.a. in Israel with “Schindler’s”… Kennedy Center honoree Johnny Carson reiterated to me of his future, “I really don’t know. I just plan to keep a low profile.” When I recalled his brief but funny telephone “appearance” on the David Letterman show, Carson answered, “Maybe I’ll limit my appearances on TV to — just the telephone!”… President Clinton was welcomed to his first “Kennedy Center Honors” in the “Honors” tradition with a song about abiding dreams and beginnings — when a young Met Opera soprano sang “Somewhere” from “West Side Story,” finale’ing with a high “C” that brought the president, the vice president and the entire audience to their feet, ending the 16th “Honors” ceremony.

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