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Keeping moviemaking safe

THE motion picture industry, accustomed to putting other people's lives on celluloid, has been chagrined to find itself the subject of controversy in the recent legal proceedings involving the making of the ``Twilight Zone'' movie. The real-life tragedy involved in that film should prod the entertainment industry into reaffirming the highest safety standard possible. Director John Landis and four co-defendants were found innocent of involuntary manslaughter charges in a criminal case growing out of the deaths of actor Vic Morrow and two young children during the making of ``Twilight Zone: The Movie.'' In addition, the families of the two young children have apparently settled a related civil suit out of court. The judge has been quoted as saying that there was no admission of liability by any of the defendants.

Hollywood - ``Hollywood,'' that is, generically, since the film industry is now global - has prided itself in its overall safe work record. Over the years unfortunate incidents have occurred. But usually they have not been fatal, as was the ``Twilight Zone'' incident, when a helicopter crashed during the filming of a war sequence.

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Today's film technology allows directors wide latitude in creating scenes that in earlier years might have been impossible, or attainable only under great danger. That can mean less risk; but if technology tempts moviemakers to attempt the once-unthinkable, it can mean added risk. A joint union-management committee is looking at safety in Hollywood. And filmmakers worry about the public's shunning films linked to injury.

It is imperative that pressure be kept on filmmakers to ensure that the drama stays on the celluloid - not on the film set.

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