DIRECTOR: "I RECEIVED DEATH THREATS"
Director Gregory Nava (Selena, American Family) said today (Thursday) that he received death threats during the production of Bordertown, his film about the unsolved murders of dozens of women in Juarez, Mexico that is competing for the top Golden Bear award at the Berlin Film Festival. Nava told a news conference at the festival that he was obliged to shoot the majority of the film, including all scenes involving its stars, Jennifer Lopez and Antonio Banderas, in other border towns "because it was too dangerous. ... There were people [in Juarez] who didn't want the movie to be made." Nava did not indicate who had made the threats. But executive producer Barbara Martinez Jitner, who took a five-man crew to Juarez to shoot some scenes with actors doubling for the stars, fingered Juarez police. She said that a production assistant was picked up by police and was beaten and forced to reveal where the crew would be filming; her hotel room was broken into; the crew was followed, "until finally we had to hire a gunman to stand next to the camera so that I could get footage for this movie ... until mysteriously our cameras were stolen and we had to end the shoot." (In August, three Mexican men were arrested in the U.S. and deported to Juarez, where they were charged with the murders. They have denied the charges.)
COMING SOON: MILLI VANILLI, THE MOVIE
Pop music's second-biggest scandal -- the payola scandal of the late 1950s topped them all -- in which it was revealed that the members of Milli Vanilli did not sing on their records and merely lip-synced to the recordings of studio performers is about to become a movie, Daily Variety reported today (Thursday). The trade publication said that the film about the duo will be written and directed by Jeff Nathanson and produced by Kathleen Kennedy. "I've always been fascinated by the notion of fakes and frauds, and in this case, you had guys who pulled off the ultimate con, selling 30 million singles and 11 million albums and then becoming the biggest laughingstocks of pop entertainment," Nathanson told Variety.
FAMED DISNEY EFFECTS ARTIST ELLENSHAW DEAD AT 93
Legendary visual effects artist Peter Ellenshaw, who painted the numerous panoramic scenes in such Disney films as Treasure Island, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Darby O'Gill and the Little People and Mary Poppins," for which he won an Oscar, died Monday in Santa Barbara at age 93. In a statement, Roy Disney, former chairman of Disney feature animation, said: "He was a brilliant and innovative visual effects pioneer who was able to consistently please my Uncle Walt and push the boundaries of the medium to fantastic new heights."
DISNEY FORCES SHUTDOWN OF CAMPUS PLAY IN IRELAND
Students at the National University of Ireland's Galway campus were forced to shut down a stage version of Disney's 1992 feature Sister Act after Disney threatened legal action, citing copyright issues. Jeff Rockett, who was producing the play to benefit the university's gay and lesbian students' society, told the Irish Times: "Six months of hard work, all for nothing. Cast and crew had given up their weekends and any spare time to rehearse and promote the play. ... They are simply in disbelief that something they have poured their hearts and souls into has been destroyed by an organization that has brought joy to many of them in their younger years."