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Saturday, Feb. 4, 2006

Shoot-em-up producer tries sensitive new approach

Globe and Mail
Tuesday, Sep. 9, 2003

The Hollywood producer who blew up Pearl Harbor, saved the world from imminent destruction by a stray asteroid, sent dozens of couples and former lovers on an Amazing Race through airport terminals, and turned Johnny Depp into a swashbuckling pirate based on the prototype of Rolling Stones relic Keith Richards says he now wants to make more thoughtful films about people who make a difference.

Jerry Bruckheimer, arguably the most powerful producer in Hollywood, is at the Toronto International Film Festival for the gala screening of Veronica Guerin. Cate Blanchett stars as the title character in this true story about an investigative journalist who took on a Dublin drug baron. Ms. Guerin was shot dead in 1996, but her murder provoked a public backlash, prompting legal changes and a belated crackdown on the city's heroin trade.

The film, directed by Joel Shumacher, has received rave reviews and some surprise, since it's such a departure from the explosive, shoot-em-up blockbusters for which Mr. Bruckheimer is known.

Mr. Top Gun says he has no intention of turning his back on the action-adventure genre. "I want to do both types of films," he said yesterday. "My responsibility is to entertain audiences. Not everyone is going to be entertained by Veronica Guerin. And I wouldn't be here if I didn't do those other films."

Ms. Blanchett spoke eloquently about the humbling experience of taking on the heroic role, especially since Ms. Guerin's death is so recent.

The opening night in Ireland was more like a "memorial service" than a premiere, she said.

Ms. Guerin's family was a great source of support when she was researching the role. "I got the sense that this film was quite cathartic for them. It kind of felt like the closing of a chapter."

Making this film gave Ms. Blanchett a "newfound respect for journalists who have the chutzpah to ask the questions people don't want to answer."

Indeed, she was even gracious with the reporter in the room who mistook her for Michelle Pfeiffer.

Funniest quote of the day: "Gentlemen, ladies and photographers. Please take your seats," intoned the moderator at the Veronica Guerin press conference.

"And photographers!" one shutterbug chuckled. "I'm glad to hear we're now a distinct species."

Now you see him, now you don't. Denzel Washington disappointed his fellow Out of Time cast members by skipping out on the premiere party MGM threw Sunday night.

The Oscar-winning actor, who plays a man under suspicion for the double murder he's trying to solve, was in Toronto all day to do a press interviews. Although Mr. Washington showed up for the photo frenzy on the red carpet, he had to skip out of the theatre and race home to New York that night for another project he's shooting.

Mr. Washington isn't the only visiting celebrity to jet in and out of the festival the same day (Tim Robbins is flying in today for exactly two hours). Still, the star's early departure obviously didn't sit well with lesser cast members.

"Uh, I don't think it's a very good idea to ask them about it," advised one MGM publicist, who was under strict orders to escort members of the media through a glum V.I.P. room.

"They kind of expected him to be here."

Journalists were forced to go through several levels of publicists before getting approval to talk with the other actors. Finally, one "interview" was okayed.

"One question," Dean Cain's personal publicist announced. And then, of course, that one single question had to be approved.

So, was Mr. Cain disappointed that Denzel didn't show up?

"I'm just happy he showed up the days I was filming with him," said Mr. Cain, the actor who played Superman on Lois & Clark and will soon be host of a new TV show, Ripley's Believe It or Not!

Well, believe it or not, Mr. Cain wanted to be thrown more questions. "Is that all you've got?" he said when the one-question Q&A was over.

I decided to throw caution to the wind and ask another. No, Mr. Cain doesn't mind being handled like a prison inmate during film junkets. Now that the interviews are over, he's actually looking forward to seeing some films.

Deciding not to risk the wrath of the personal publicists, I hightailed it out of there before being yanked out by my hair. Gee, these parties can be so much fun. ROBTv Workopolis