Germ warfare on the Lido

Busy Soderbergh talks up 'Contagion' and future pix

Steven Soderbergh prompted a sneeze-and-sniffle alert on the Lido with his pandemic thriller “Contagion,” which world preemed out-of-competition in Venice prior to its U.S. release Sept. 9 via Warner Bros.

Shrugging off retirement rumors, the helmer also updated his fans on future projects.

“I am starting to shoot a male stripper movie next week,” he said.

The indie drama, tentatively titled “Magic Mike,” stars Tatum Channing and draws on Channing’s experiences as a stripper when he was 19 in Tampa, Fla.

Soderbergh said he will shoot his previously announced “Man From U.N.C.L.E” in February, and “Liberace” in June for Warner Bros., before taking “a little sabbatical.”

At the presser, journos told the “Contagion” helmer that any sneezing during the press screening had suddenly become alarming.

And Soderbergh himself admitted being affected by a similar virus phobia, since making the pic.

“I’d like to know who touched that microphone before you got it,” he quipped.

“I think all of us are aware of this issue in a way that we weren’t before we started the film. I’m washing my hands a bit more, since I’ve shown up in Venice.”

This reaction stems from how “Contagion” was conceived.

“All of the science in the film had to be accurate,” said Soderbergh. “All of the scenes in which the virus was discussed or shown visually had to be absolutely realistic and plausible.

“We were interested in making a procedural that was realistic in its content, but also stylistically very simple, very clean.”

Also on the Lido tubthumping “Contagion” were stars Gwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon and Laurence Fishburne.

Asked if there was any moral message to what happens to her character in the pic, Paltrow delivered the presser’s punchiest quote.

“I think that if death by virus was a punishment for an extra-marital affair there would be about three dudes left in this room right now,” she answered. “Maybe less, because we are in Italy.”

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