Army marches on ‘Poseidon’ set

BY ARMY ARCHERD – GOOD MORNING: “I’m the Shelley Winters character and he’s Ernie Borgnine,” said Josh Logan as he pointed to a bloodied Kurt Russell, with whom I visited on “Poseidon’s” Stage 16 at Warners. It’s one of five giant stages utilized for Wolfgang Petersen’s $150 million version of Paul Gallico’s classic story. The first film, Irwin Allen’s 20th-Fox 1972 “Poseidon Adventure,” came in at around $5 million. And as Allen’s widow, Sheila, recalls, 20th would only come up with $2.5 million; Irwin got the rest from pals Steve Broidy and Sherrill Corwin, who made fortunes from their friendly contributions. I was also on the Fox upside-down sets of the original film directed by Ronald Neame (now 94), who reminded me he also filmed sequences aboard the Queen Mary, docked in Long Beach, in addition to the stages at Fox designed by Oscar-nominated William Creber. The admiration for the original “Poseidon” is kept alive by the “Poseidon Adventure Fan Club,” which meets semi-annually aboard the Queen Mary for a screening and party. The Neames are invited to stay aboard overnight in the Royal Suite. This year Ernie Borgnine also attended the event….I had marveled at the original sets 34 years ago and once again, I was impressed by Bill Sandell’s set at WB, as I watched Petersen direct the hundreds of actors trapped in the now-inverted ballroom. Kurt Russell had emerged from bodies already killed in the deluge and “blood” oozed alongside his mouth as he tried to help a youngster climb up a downed length of drapery. Believe me, it looked real. Director Petersen is no stranger to working in the most treacherous of locations – water – having already survived “Das Boot” and “The Perfect Storm.” He admits the technical (computer-generated imagery) advances are gigantic since he made those films. APART FROM technical advances, how does the making of Petersen’s “Poseidon” differ from “Das Boot” and “The Perfect Storm”? “This movie is about you and me,” he said between takes. “It’s not about professional characters – it’s about how you and I would react. No one is campy.” And who survives? He admitted those who escaped a watery grave in his first two epics were chosen by -“my wife, Maria!” Computer-generated images by ILM are already in the works with digitalized replicas of cast members – including Sheila Allen, who appears in this film as she had in husband Irwin’s original. This time, she’ll even be shown in the water, thanks to the CGI process.

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