Safety Panel Drops Most 'Zone' Fines

Times Staff Writer

The state Division of Occupational Safety and Health, known as Cal/OSHA, has dismissed the bulk of $62,375 in fines that had been levied against movie director John Landis, Warner Bros. Inc. movie company and three other firms in connection with the 1982 "Twilight Zone" movie set deaths.

A Cal/OSHA spokesman said the total fines were reduced to $1,350 in part because Landis and four other men were acquitted May 29 of involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of Vic Morrow, 53, and child actors Myca Dinh Le, 7, and Renee Shinn Chen, 6. The three died July 23, 1982, during late-night filming of the movie when exploding special effects caused a helicopter to crash on them.

Attorneys for Cal/OSHA advised the agency that the original fines would not hold up under legal review because of jurisdictional and other problems, the spokesman said.

The Cal/OSHA fines against Landis, Levitsky Productions Inc., Warner Bros., the Burbank Studios and Western Helicopter Inc. had been appealed and the reduction agreed to in negotiations that were approved Dec. 29 by an administrative law judge.

In another development, Joel Behr, the personal attorney for Landis and "Twilight Zone" unit production manager Dan Allingham, made public a copy of a stinging letter he sent this week to the Directors Guild of America.

The guild earlier this month voted to reprimand Landis, Allingham and two associates for "unprofessional" conduct in the deaths and called the incident "prejudicial to the welfare" of the guild. The vote by the guild's national Board of Directors carries no disciplinary repercussions.

In his letter to guild Executive Secretary Glenn J. Gumpel, Behr said: "John and Dan did make a mistake of judgment in the confined context of the hiring of the children. In the broader, significant context, however, they were personally vindicated and the welfare of all guild members was preserved."

Behr complained that Landis and Allingham never were given a chance to present their side of events to the guild and that "John and Dan were subjected to years of attack in courts, administrative proceedings and the media without so much as a word of support from their guild."

The lawyer said he was not asking for a response to his letter nor "seeking to provoke further debate."

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