‘Dredd’ shoot ’em up in Blighty

GOOD MORNING: From England and a cold rainy midnight at Shepperton Studios, where Cinergi’s “Judge Dredd” is filming … I knew I was near the studio because gunshots and cracking glass shattered the quiet countryside night stillness … I arrived at Mega City I, one of the three cities remaining in the U.S. in the 22nd century. The cities represent N.Y., L.A. and an unnamed Texas city, which have survived ecological disasters, earthquakes and wars. Although I stood underneath a sign of Broadway and Lexington and 84th, there is little to resemble the city of today … It is total destruction in this walled city. Another survivor is Aspen — but it is a penal colony in this movie. So you can see there is some humor in this Sylvester Stallone starrer … Computerized technology will make the studio set seem 5,000 feet tall, and over 100 people are building models to be technically and computer-inserted into this film … The last scene in the picture will be at the top of the Statue of Liberty, and I saw its base on this giant Mega City set. The face of the statue is being built at Lenox, Mass., at a company bought by exec producer Andy Vajna’s Cinergi.

IT WAS A ONE-DAY TRIP HERE and Vajna arrived to finalize a sequence of flying motorcycles. He admits he is “hands-on on all his pictures.” He had arrived from N.Y. and his “Die Hard 3” unit with Bruce Willis, and the Nova Scotia location of his “Scarlet Letter,” starring Demi Moore. Vajna told me he has never before — and probably never will — have three such productions shooting all at the same time. The total budget of all three is about $ 185 million. “Die Hard 3” is out Memorial Day, “Judge Dredd” goes out July 4 internationally and the romantic “Scarlet Letter” probably next fall. Vajna had made his Buena Vista deals with Jeffrey Katzenberg. He is now dealing with Joe Roth, who is expected here next month. “I am the perfect combination for them (Disney),” says Vajna, who plans 17-18 more pictures in the star-studded category. He assures me all three productions are going as smoothly as anyone could hope. Danny Cannon (26) is directing and Vajna said, “I saw his ‘Young American,’ which he did for very little money, and I was very impressed. His dedication toward ‘Judge Dredd’ assured me he was the man for the job.” As for Stallone’s rapport with the young director, Vajna told me, “I’d never seen Sly as close to his director before.”Producer Beau Marks toured me on the giant set with 31 specially created autos of the future waiting to take off. Marks has been working on this unit since July 1993.

STALLONE IS PART OF A JET SET off the movie as well. He arrived at work Monday night after a fast 24 hours in Paris. He attended Oliver Stone’s private screening of “Natural Born Killers” on the Champs-Elysees Sunday night, and on the Champs on Monday he broke ground for next year’s Planet Hollywood in front of a mob of French fans. Others on hand for Stone’s soiree were Woody Harrelson and Arnon Milchan. Sly overnighted at the Ritz Hotel then lunched with sculptor Cesar, who designed the award of the same name. Stallone commissioned him to create a statue for his home in Miami, which is already a miniature museum of art. Stallone and Vajna had another picture to do “down the line.” On Thursday, Stallone flies to N.Y. for a press junket of “The Specialist.” While there he will also meet with Joel Silver to talk about a proposed Warner Bros. feature for February tentatively titled “Sandblast.” Stallone tells me he hopes to make more “Judge Dredd” movies. “There are 25 years of ‘Dredd’ stories, including those into outer space,” he says. “I always wanted to make a picture like this since I saw ‘Blade Runner.’ ” As I sat with Stallone in his trailer with his new girlfriend, Andrea Wieser, a graduate student from Austria, Sly was midnight-suppering on nothing but a cold piece of chicken breast. He keeps to a daily 1,100-calorie diet — and hefty exercise — to keep a razor-sharp hungry look. He laughed. “This is the most enjoyable character I’ve had since ‘Tango and Cash.’ ” He says “The Specialist” was his smoothest movie. Others in the cast here working late into the night are Armand Assante, Diane Lane, Rob Schneider, Joan Chen, Jurgen Prochnow and Max Von Sydow. Edward R. Pressman is exec producing with Vajna. The “Judge Dredd” company, which has been shooting on a six-day-a-week schedule, will now shift to a more humane five days a week. Lane, Stallone’s beautiful leading lady, is here with her year-old daughter, Eleanor. Now divorcing Christopher Lambert, Diane says they “will always be the best of friends.” She had her choice of four roles in four U.S. productions shooting in the U.K. and chose this one. The incredible production design is by “Batman’s” Nigel Phelps, the set decorated by “Batman’s” Peter Young, and “Alien 3’s” Joss Williams is the special effects supervisor.