Oz ecology ruling halts ‘Stealth’ shoot

State government to assist producers in appeal

SYDNEY — Columbia was forced Thursday to halt filming on actioner “Stealth” in the Blue Mountains two hours west of Sydney after the Land and Environment Court ruled that wildlife would be endangered.

The New South Wales government said it would work with producers Laura Ziskin, Neal Moritz and Mike Medavoy to lodge an urgent appeal.

Environmental groups objected to the film, directed by Rob Cohen, lensing in an area where they said wildlife would be endangered. Eight protesters were arrested when they demonstrated at the location Tuesday.

“No evidence of environmental harm was presented to the court,” said NSW Premier Bob Carr. “We are now following every legal avenue in a bid to overturn this decision.”

The $97 million “Stealth,” starring Jamie Foxx, Josh Lucas and Jessica Biel as pilots battling a deadly robot-piloted craft, was in the 60th day of a 78-day shoot. The production employs 1,500 people.

The Premier said he will introduce legislation to overturn the ruling in the NSW Parliament next week if the appeal is turned down by the Supreme Court.

“NSW is in the midst of negotiations with two other major film projects and does not want to put those jobs at risk,” Carr added. “The decision comes at a time when Californians are desperately trying to stop filmmaking in New Zealand, Canada and Australia. This is the worst possible message for overseas filmmakers.”

The Premier said he would introduce legislation to overturn the ruling in the NSW Parliament next week if the appeal was turned down by the Supreme Court.

Filming of the pic was being supervised by the Dept. of Environment and Conservation to ensure habitat was not destroyed.

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