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Crude matters to Hollywood

Cameron, di Bonaventura back pics about oil drilling

As the Middle East continues to roil with revolution, oil remains front-page news. So it’s no surprise that some Hollywood heavy- hitters are turning their attention to crude matters.

Last week, Summit Entertainment and Participant Media announced they are moving forward on a narrative feature centered on the events that led to last year’s catastrophic Gulf of Mexico oil spill with Lorenzo di Bonaventura producing, while James Cameron is throwing his weight behind feature documentary “The Tipping Point: The Age of the Oil Sands.” That doc depicts the ecological devastation wrought by Canada’s Alberta Tar Sands, the largest petroleum reserves outside Saudi Arabia and the largest single source of imported crude in the U.S.

In fact, Cameron, who originally boarded “Tipping Point” as exec producer but had to bow out of that role given that he’s featured in the doc, can trace elements of “Avatar’s” environmental message to the Tar Sands. “Avatar” art director Todd Cherniawsky, an Edmonton native, based Pandora’s mining scenes on the site’s toxic tailings ponds, so mammoth they can be seen from space.

Cameron, who became involved in the doc after meeting activist Francois Paulette, is working behind the scenes to drum up interest in what has become the world’s largest industrial project. The helmer enlisted “Avatar” star Sigourney Weaver to narrate the doc, which is an expanded and updated version of a segment that ran on Canada’s CBC.

Meanwhile, “Tipping Point” helmers Niobe Thompson and Tom Radford are courting Hollywood’s green legion, including Ed Begley Jr., William Shatner and “An Inconvenient Truth” producers Laurie David and Lawrence Bender, for a March 18 screening.

“We’re riding a wave of public interest about the real price of oil,” says Thompson, who plans to go the festival circuit route beginning in the spring.