Lights, cameras but no action at film studios


HOLLYWOOD -- The earthquake didn't wake up members of one Los Angeles movie crew. They were in the middle of production, filming just miles from the epicenter.

"All I could think of was the movie 'San Francisco,' " said photographer Tony Friedkin, referring to the 1936 film set against the 1906 quake.

Mr. Friedkin and the 100 other cast and crew members scrambled off a sound stage in Sylmar, a few miles north of the quake's epicenter, at 4:31 a.m. Monday, moments after they had completed a courtroom scene for "Murder in the First" at the Tri-Scenic Sound Studio.

"Director Marc Rocco had just gotten a take that he liked and the cast [including actors Christian Slater, Kevin Bacon and Gary Oldman] were just sitting there, and then this thing hit. The sets stayed up, but the building started to go and I got thrown like a trampoline into a metal cart," said Mr. Friedkin.

"Murder in the First" was probably the only active production so close to the quake's epicenter and almost certainly the last in Southern California to roll cameras Monday.

The film, TV and music industries were nearly at a standstill yesterday as damage to sound stages, studios and offices was assessed.

Warner Bros., Walt Disney Studios and Universal Pictures, the three major studios in the San Fernando Valley, and therefore those closest to the epicenter, were closed for the day. The studios had flooding, broken windows and destruction of office interiors. Losses are still being tallied.

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