lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Feb 6 07:29:30 MST 2002
Washington Post, Wednesday, February 6, 2002
Now Showing: The Flag
Hollywood Is Storming Out Of Its 9-11 Foxhole With A Barrage of Patriotic
By Sharon Waxman
LOS ANGELES -- It was during a Christmas dinner in the mid-1980s that
President Ronald Reagan first pitched a movie idea to producer Doug Wick, a
friend of the first family. How about a true story of an American hero, the
president suggested, a soldier who refused to join the surrender to
Japanese troops in the Philippines early in World War II and instead fled
into the jungle and created a guerrilla force with the help of locals?
Reagan's idea languished for more than a decade, but "Fertig" is finally
making its way to the screen, with Brad Pitt close to signing for the lead
role. It's just the kind of project for which Hollywood has increasingly
developed a taste in the new atmosphere of patriotism and unity.
"It's about the indomitable spirit, heroism and sensitivity to other
ethnicities," says Wick, who is producing the film. "A story like that is
much easier to get financing for in the period post-9/11."
After a period of anxiety and panic following the attacks on the World
Trade Center and the Pentagon, the entertainment industry is back in
production at full throttle. And just as culture in general is leaning
toward the heroic, the comforting and the inspirational, so too is
Hollywood, throwing its weight behind projects that cultivate familiar,
all-American images and stories of bravery and goodness.
"I'm reading scripts that are more patriotic, and directors are more
interested in doing them," says Wick, who has produced such movies as
"Gladiator" and "Stuart Little."
Cynical is out. Sincere is in. Exhibit A: Director David Fincher, whose
last movie was "Fight Club," will now direct "Fertig."
As one Miramax executive told a producer who was unsuccessfully pitching an
offbeat script: "What we're buying here is big, uplifting projects. People
don't want quirky, odd, Billy Bob Thornton movies."
War movies like "Fertig" are crowding their way into the production
pipeline, and a string of battle flicks that were shot before Sept. 11 and
are now set for release are being supported with massive marketing dollars.
The success of the Somalia combat movie "Black Hawk Down" -- which so far
has taken in $75 million -- has boosted executives' confidence in releasing
big-budget tales of heroism. "Hart's War," starring Bruce Willis and set
for release in March, is about soldiers imprisoned by the Nazis who conceal
a guerrilla operation during a court-martial. In "We Were Soldiers,"
scheduled for release this spring, Mel Gibson leads an outnumbered, elite
group of Americans as they battle their way out of a siege by 2,000 North
"I think there probably is, since 9-11, a greater public sensitivity,
interest, concern, allegiance to our military personnel than there was
prior," said Robert Levin, the head of marketing at MGM, which is releasing
"Hart's War." "In the case of 'Hart's War,' when you're dealing with lots
of issues of honor, courage, sacrifice of military personnel, I think those
issues are likely to resonate more strongly than they did six months ago,
or eight months ago. It gives us an upside to the potential for the film."
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