‘Titanic’ studio ready to go ‘Deep’

GOOD MORNING: The Titanic sails again. Well, not exactly the ship — but the studio that 20th built at Rosarito Beach is again fully afloat. This time, it’s for WB’s “Deep Blue Sea,” with old salt (“Cutthroat Island”) Renny Harlin at the helm. “I am on an incredible high to be working here,” he says. He’s in the multiple tanks and stages and Harlin has no worries on this film about the possibility of extraordinary natural elements adding to the budget (which is below the megabuck strata: around $70 million). Working in the former dry (and wet) docks of “Titanic,” Harlin tells me, “This facility is a testament to James Cameron. He built an entire studio and we are benefiting from it. And we are trying to do it economically.” He also credits Cameron’s company with developing gear to shoot safely with cast and crew deep in water. “Deep” has an 80-day shooting schedule inside the studio tanks with mechanical sharks — some of which weigh 8,000 pounds, contain 1,000 horsepower motors, and can move at 35 mph! Costar LL Cool J had to “escape” from one in a scene filmed Wednesday. After shooting the scene, Harlin told me “LL was fantastic — he is one terrific actor!” A second camera team is at sea, off the Rosarito coast, filming Mako sharks from inside titanium cages. Thomas Jane and Saffron Burrows will be in scenes with the real sharks as well. Harlin says, “I am really excited that WB is creating new stars Thomas Jane, Saffron Burrows and Jacqueline McKenzie, who will be leads in many action movies to come. They have good looks and acting talent.” “Deep Blue Sea” also toplines Samuel L. Jackson (who worked with Harlin in “The Long Kiss Goodnight”), Stellan Skarsgard and Michael Rapaport. Alan Riche, Tony Ludwig and Akiva Goldsman produce. Harlin’s Midnight Sun Pictures banner is also producing “Blast From the Past” starring Alicia Silverstone, Brendan Fraser, Sissy Spacek and Christopher Walken. When I asked Harlin about the coincidence that he and his “Cliffhanger” star Sylvester Stallone are both prepping Formula One race-car pics, Harlin volunteered, “It doesn’t make sense to make two Formula One pictures at the same time — we should both get together.” OK Sly, the car is in your garage.

ANOTHER CHAPTER IN “American History X”: director Tony Kaye told Toronto Film Festival director Piers Handling he did not want his picture to be included in the fest. Kaye arrived at fest h.q. armed with a video camera and caught Handling in the lobby at the elevators. They moved to a reception area nearby where Kaye, with camera, expressed his feelings about having the film excluded from the fest (starts Sept. 10) and its competition. Handling was not familiar with Kaye’s appearance (with camera crew) last week at New Line president Michael DeLuca’s office accompanied by a priest, rabbi and a Tibetan monk. However, the fest director said he wasn’t upset by Kaye’s arrival with a camera. “Some directors like to keep a record of their appearance at the festival from start to finish, like Robert Rodriguez — so I thought the same, that he (Kaye) was making a video diary of the experience. But unfortunately this wasn’t the case.” When I reached Kaye at his hotel room, he would only say breathily, “I’m under an immense amount of pressure and can’t talk to you now; one of my dogs isn’t well, and that’s the most important thing for me now.” Later calls to him were not returned. So, Handling says, “I am talking to all the principals (the pic’s producer and New Line) and to Alliance, which has the release here in Canada. We have always had good relations with New Line and Fine Line,” he added. “There is no real resolution. But we (the festival) do not want to be in the middle.” Meanwhile the fest continues scheduling, accepting (and returning?) films.

BEN AFFLECK MADE HIS directing debut two years ago with “I Killed My Lesbian Wife, Hung Her on a Meat Hook, and Now I Have a Three-Picture Deal at Disney.” Producer Kamala Lopez will show the short film, starring Jay Lacopo and Karla Montana, for the first time to an audience next week at Sony. Lopez stars opposite Rosanna Arquette in Karen Finley’s directing debut film “Creating Kali” for Heroica Films … Roy Christopher designs the Emmys (his seventh) at the Shrine, where he will also be up for an Emmy — for designing the Oscars. He’s also working on three series: “Frasier,” “Becker” and “Encore,” the Nathan Lane show … Connie Stevens, daughters Joely and Tricia Fisher wing to SanFran Monday to help Eddie Fisher celebrate his 70th birthday … Jay Fiondella’s celebrating the 49th anni of his Santa Monica eatery, Chez Jay’s … Bernard Oseransky was surprise-partied as MTM toasted him on his retirement after 43 years in the biz. He rose from page at CBS to senior VP of production at MTM … Samira Fuller Farquar was welcomed by the Samuel Fullers’ (Christa Lang’s) daughter Samantha and her husband Regan Farquar, July 8 … Vet publicist Wally Beene is in intensive care at the U. of Arizona Medical Center after a freak fire in the operating room while he was undergoing brain surgery … The U. Press of Ken-tucky will publish “A Rose for Mrs. Miniver, The Life of Greer Garson,” the first (!) bio of the seven-time Oscar nominee. It’s written by Michael Troyan, of WB TV publicity dept. A retro of gracious Greer’s works will be shown at the SMU Greer Garson Theater Sept. 11-13 along with publication of the book.

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