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Wildfires put major heat on TV, pic shoots

'Aviator' shoots elsewhere; Santa Clarita Studios on alert

Southern California’s rampaging wildfires have been stretching Hollywood’s nerves, with a blaze partially destroying a set for “The Aviator” in the Simi Valley area over the weekend.

The fire at Big Sky Ranch, which had been booked for airstrip scenes in the Howard Hughes biopic, forced the production to switch to interior shooting in Long Beach. Plans for completing the scenes were up in the air.

Warner Bros., which is co-producing “The Aviator” with Miramax and IEG, said in a statement: “We moved to cover sets because the surroundings weren’t conducive to shooting due to the blackened skies. For our production, this is just a minor inconvenience as compared to those who are currently suffering through the devastating effects of the fire.”

The raging fires — centered in Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties — have destroyed at least 1,134 homes, killed 15 people, forced thousands to evacuate and disrupted auto and air traffic, with thousands of travelers stranded for much of the day at airports outside California.

Ash has coated Southern California and the dense haze has led to “golden hour” conditions during all daylight hours.

“I’m looking out my window and I see fire everywhere in the hills,” said Vince Vellardita, prexy-CEO of Valencia Studios. “There’s ash everywhere and it’s a very eerie feeling. But all our shows and stages are going full-time.”

Mike Dilorenzo, prexy of Santa Clarita Studios, said his facility is operating at full capacity with “CSI” and “Carnivale” shooting. “We are on full alert due to the fires,” he said. “I think everyone is really worried. We’ve got all our fire hoses hooked up and ready to go.”

Fires in San Diego County were so extensive that a recorded message to the local film commission urged callers to stay out of the county and the National Football League moved Monday night’s Miami Dolphins-San Diego Chargers game to Arizona.

A publicist for DreamWorks’ “Terminal,” shooting 50 miles away from Los Angeles in the high desert in Palmdale, said the fires had not disrupted shooting. “We’ve been very fortunate that no one has even been late to the set, despite the traffic disruptions,” Eileen Peterson said.

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