As you researched this, were you alarmed?

I knew a lot. But I think what stuns you is that all of this can be corrected. Everybody knows how to begin to clean it up. Does it have to be 100 percent pure? Will we ever get to that? Maybe not. ... We know what is contributing to it all.

You look at infrastructure in America, and you go, "We're the wealthiest nation on the face of the Earth, and we can't even fix our bridges?" The reality is, we can do better. We'll put anything in the way of actually confronting some of the issues that need to be dealt with.

Look, I'm not a politician. I'm not one of these environmentalists who work on a daily basis trying to do something. I'm a storyteller. I see things that go on, and you try to apply it, in some fashion. This time, into a sci-fi-slash-horror movie, using a lot of information.

Talk about your next film project, "The Day the Laughter Stopped."

I'm waiting on the script, and I'm not exactly sure when that's going to be delivered. It's the story of Fatty Arbuckle [an actor at the center of a 1920s Hollywood scandal] ... that people never really quite knew. I think it's got some real value, in the state of celebrity and publicity and the judicial system, and all that goes with it. If we get it right, I think it's a pretty fascinating study. It's an HBO film. We're waiting on the draft.

Anything else you've got on the burner at this point?

The "Diner" musical. It's to open in the early part of April. We're in rehearsals in New York now. In fact, they're rehearsing today. They have a lot of stuff to work out. We're going to rehearse and then shut down for the holidays. Then, around the first of the year, they'll start to load into the theater and go from there.

Will it be opening in New York or tried out on the road first?

New York.

How does it look so far?

I should say I'm quietly optimistic. I don't normally like to tout stuff that I do. All I can tell you is, [Crow's] music is phenomenal. It is just absolutely terrific.

One last question about "The Bay": Why wasn't the movie shot here in Maryland?

The lack of a tax credit. And even though the movie was relatively cheap, the little credit would have helped. We couldn't do it. Now the tax credit has a better situation, I understand, and it's much more inviting for filmmakers. But for that window, I couldn't do it there.

We shot it in Georgetown, S.C. It worked very well for what we are doing. It looks very credible.

Was it fun to do a quickie project like this?

Yes. I used basically an unknown cast, a very young crew. We would really run and shoot. It was great to work that way.

Kind of like you did on "Diner."

It was, in that regard. I had a lot of first-time people on that crew as well. Here, we did that same type of thing. It's good to do that. It keeps you on your toes. You don't want to get locked in, saying, "This is the way we've got to do it."

Or you could look at it as, in 30 years, you've gone absolutely nowhere.

[Laughing.] Yes, that's very true.

Special screening

What: "The Bay," followed by Q&A with Barry Levinson.

When: 7 p.m. Monday

Where: Falvey Hall at MICA's Brown Center, 1301 Mount Royal Ave.

Tickets: $5; free for Maryland Film Festival members.

Details: 410-752-8083 or

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