Heathrow news may affect bizzers' itineraries
With memories of 9/11 dredged up by Thursday’s Heathrow Airport news, showbiz workers are weighing their options as festival season begins.The Edinburgh Film Festival begins Monday, quickly followed by the Venice and Deauville events and a barrage of other European fests. London frequently serves as the connection for many travelers to the U.S., including those traveling to the Toronto fest. One vet festgoer said, “I’m not going to change my plans, but I’m going to change my route. I don’t want to fly through Heathrow again,” citing such alternates as Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Paris. However, there aren’t many alternatives to Heathrow for international travelers going to Edinburgh. Among those expected to attend are Brian De Palma, Steven Soderbergh, Charlize Theron and Kevin Smith. “We’re going to go, and just wait on line longer,” said helmer Jennifer Shainin, who is heading to Edinburgh on Saturday with her indie pic “Apart From That.” Shainin said she and co-helmer Randy Walker had just invested in Pelican cases — watertight electronics protectors — for their cameras and computer equipment. “We’re planning on flying domestically within the U.K. as well,” she added. “And you can’t take any baggage on the plane, except clear Zip-loc Bags. So I guess we’ll watch our computers and cameras being thrown around.” “I haven’t spoken to the filmmakers,” said sales agent Josh Braun, who is repping the Edinburgh-bound docu “51 Birch” through his Submarine label. “But considering the patience and determination it took them to make (the film), I doubt even a terrorist threat will stop them from presenting the film over there.” Edinburgh runs Monday through Aug. 27. A rep for Warner Bros. said it was too soon to know whether travel to the Venice fest, which starts Aug. 30, will be affected. Stars such as Scarlett Johansson, Lindsay Lohan, Ben Affleck and Julianne Moore appear in films in competition in Venice. Travel to Deauville, which kicks off Sept. 1 in northern France on the English Channel, could also be affected. Fest is hoping for talent such as Robert Downey Jr., the “Little Miss Sunshine” ensemble and the “Prairie Home Companion” crew to make the trek. One vet of the international fest circuit observed, “Stars will certainly be even more inclined to insist on non-commercial flights for film promotions and festival appearances.” “I’m glad I’m not going to Venice,” admitted one studio exec who customarily attends, but has no films launching there this year. “To have to stand in line for five hours at the airport, it’s just so hard to plan travel. But my experience is that people are cautious, and there is always a lot of gallows humor while you are making these (complicated) arrangements.” One studio PR topper added, “Our mantra is that we tell our talent and staff that they should do what they are comfortable with. But it’s been business as usual. We always take precautions that our talent and staff are safe. I was in Toronto during 9/11, and after the initial shock everyone got back to work.” Five years ago, when planes were grounded after 9/11, many Gothamites in Toronto had to rent cars and drive them back to NYC, making for some odd pairings and a sort of weird communal experience in the indie film world. Despite intense media coverage of Thursday’s thwarted attempt, passengers at Newark Airport seemed unfazed. Standing in line at the American Airlines terminal, many calmly talked on their cell phones while nearby monitors played CNN, which reported that the targets included American Airlines. A Manhattan denizen, who planned to fly today, groaned, “Damn these would-be terrorists. Now I’ll have to get to the airport at dawn.” (Steven Gaydos and Pat Saperstein in Los Angeles and Ian Mohr in New York contributed to this report. )
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