A Rocky Road Faces Stallone in Simi Valley

Times Staff Writers

The Simi Valley Freeway may soon become Rocky Road--but not without a fight from local officials.

The Simi Valley City Council voiced strong opposition Thursday to a proposal by Cannon Films to close down a three- mile stretch of the 118 Freeway between Simi Valley and Moorpark during four consecutive weekdays this month for filming of Sylvester Stallone's new movie, "Over The Top."

The state Department of Transportation and the California Film Office both have given tentative approval to what would be the first such rush-hour closure of a freeway in the state.

Caltrans officials said, however, that they also want the approval of the communities that would be most affected by the closure, although such approval is not required.

The film company wants to use the Simi Valley Freeway for "high-precision trucking stunts," a state official said, for the movie in which Stallone plays a truck driver who tries to win back the love of his son and also win the world arm-wrestling championship.

Cannon Films is not required to pay the state for use of the freeway.

"This would cause too much of a major disruption, and it's too much to ask of this community," Simi Valley Mayor Elton Gallegly said during a special Thursday evening session of the council.

The council protest came despite a plea from Kathleen Milnes, deputy director of the California Film Office, a state agency that issues permits for filming on state property, to allow the shooting. She called use of the freeway a show of support for the film industry, which she said increasingly has been shooting movies outside California.

Her request drew a stern reply from Gallegly. "We may not have the final word in this, but I can assure this young lady that our voice will be heard, loud and strong," he said.

Milnes said filming on weekends would double the labor costs of the film company and that filming only during non-peak traffic hours would mean more shooting days on the freeway, putting the production schedule in jeopardy.

State officials said 18,000 vehicles use the stretch of freeway daily.

"This film was not going to film at all in California because of the amount of road work," Milnes said. "We've been losing most of the road shows to other states, which routinely close their freeways for film makers."

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