Lights up on ‘Dark’

L.A.-centric pic gathers natives for project

Nasty weather couldn’t dampen filmmakers’ spirits for “Dark Blue” at Wednesday night’s rain-drenched preem. But even they had to acknowledge the movie — the tale of a cowboy cop set against the backdrop of the 1992 L.A. riots — isn’t exactly an easy sell, Kurt Russell’s performance notwithstanding.

“It’s not about the riots,” MGM’s Chris McGurk was quick to point out at the after-party a block away from the Cinerama Dome. He described the pic as the story of a cop who acts above the law, not the riots. “It just happens to be set then,” seconded Intermedia chief operating officer Jon Gumpert,, who first read the script as a Universal exec and champions its redemptive qualities.

McGurk repeatedly invoked “Training Day,” a movie David Ayer also wrote, though in the case of “Dark Blue” from a story by James Ellroy.

For Russell, the project’s appeal was simple: The writing and an intriguingly complex character. Yet he didn’t commit until director Ron Shelton came on board. “I thought he had the right sensibility,” Russell said.

Only Shelton copped to the native appeal of the movie, the first he’s helmed from someone else’s script. “I’m a native Angeleno, as are Ellroy, Ayer and Russell,” he said. “I was here during the ’65 riots, and I was here in the ’92 riots. I love L.A., and I worry about L.A.”

Shelton shrugged when asked about marketing challenges posed by such a complex movie during a climate of renewed patriotism and escalating talk of war.

“I can’t control that,” he said. “When you have a tough movie, it’s always going to be tricky getting it into the marketplace,” he said.

Besides Goldie Hawn, Kate and Oliver Hudson, crowd included producers Jim Jacks and Caldecot Chubb, pic’s Lolita Davidovich, Scott Speedman, Brendan Gleeson and Michael Michele, along with James Woods and Ming Na.

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