Clooney will make film here


Shooting 'Syriana' most of September

August 13, 2004|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN MOVIE CRITIC

If that slightly round guy with all the movie cameras around him looks familiar, he just may be: Megastar George Clooney will be hitting Baltimore in the next week or two, shooting scenes for Syriana, a spy thriller from writer-director Stephen Gaghan that should be in theaters sometime next year.

Mandy Sprinkel, a casting agent with Central Casting out of Washington, said film crews should wrap up there by the end of the month. After that, they shift to Charm City, where they'll likely be ensconced through September.

The film is based on former CIA operative Robert Baer's 2002 book, See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War on Terrorism. The book is Baer's first-person account of how the CIA failed in its mission to head off attacks on American soil by terrorists operating out of the Mideast.

Jack Gerbes, head of the Maryland Film Commission, would not comment on any aspects of the filming. But Sprinkel, whose agency held an open casting call in Washington last month, confirmed that Baltimore will be host to Clooney, Gaghan and the film crew through most, if not all, of September. In addition to Washington, the film is being shot in Morocco and other locations throughout the world.

The movie also stars Matt Damon, Amanda Peet and Greta Scacchi, none of whom are expected in Baltimore, Sprinkel said. Other cast members include Chris Cooper and Michelle Monaghan. Gaghan is the Oscar-winning screenwriter of 2000's Traffic. This is his second film as a director.

Clooney, 43, leapt onto people's radar screens by playing the willful, charismatic Dr. Doug Ross on the TV series ER and won a Golden Globe for his starring role in the Coen Brothers' 2000 comedy, O Brother, Where Art Thou? His next film, Ocean's Twelve, the sequel to 2001's Ocean's Eleven (which itself was a remake of a 1960 film of the same name), is set for release later this year. He's played Batman, waged war against the paparazzi and was chosen People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive for 1997.

As for the remark about roundness: Clooney has been asked to put on 25 pounds for his role as the CIA agent in Syriana, according to Hollywood columnist Army Archerd. Fortunately for his fans, his soulful eyes should not be affected.

New at the Senator

For the next two weeks, Baltimore's biggest movie screen will be hosting some of its smallest films.

Two documentaries, Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism and Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War, will be playing at the Senator, part of owner Tom Keifaber's efforts to keep his finger on the pulse of national film culture, as well as attract people to his theater who may not normally make the trip.

"I do not have any illusions that these are going to be wildly popular films," Kiefaber says. But documentaries, "are really the new independent films," he says. "What have traditionally been thought of as independent films have been co-opted by the major distributors, and I feel that we've got a role to play in putting these documentaries on the screen."

Noting that his current feature, M. Night Shyamalan's The Village, is not bringing in the crowds he had hoped, Kiefaber says he looks on the next two weeks as "a late-summer opportunity to indulge in something that is of interest to me."

While acknowledging both films slant to the left, he insists there's no sort of partisan political statement he's trying to make. "I will not make any representation of any of these films as having a lock on the truth," he says.

And for those who would like to see some political films with a decidedly right-wing slant at the Senator, Kiefaber says he's ready to listen.

"I always tell people, `We show 'em, we don't make 'em," Kiefaber says. "We're pretty much open to suggestion, if people have films we should look at."

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