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In Search of . . . Richard Rush

“I get offered a lot of pictures. But I’m one of those guys who has to be in love, and so. . . .”

And so, it’s been nearly a decade since we’ve had a movie from Richard Rush. But now, the director of the critically admired “The Stunt Man” (1980) has returned to work--directing a Diet Coke spot.

“I think it’s the first commercial I’ve done in 20 years,” said Rush, who got his start plugging products on film.

Titled “A Journey to the Kitchen,” it’s darkly humorous and Indiana Jones-ish, which is appropriate--since it’ll be attached to the upcoming “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” video, with a shorter version running on TV.

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The “plot”: A woman goes into the kitchen to get a you-know-what. “And then,” said Rush, “all hell breaks loose.” Such as snakes--and an Indy Jones-type hero to save the day.

When post-production wraps, Rush will get back to work on a script called “The Fat Lady,” about a famed military cargo plane, which he hopes to shoot in the near future.

Prior to “The Stunt Man,” Rush helmed “Freebie and the Bean” (1974), “Getting Straight” (1970) and a handful of exploitation pics, including “Hell’s Angels on Wheels” (1967).

More often, projects came and went--like the recent “Air America.”

An avid pilot, Rush spent four years working on the tale of renegade American fliers who flew for the CIA’s secret airline during the Vietnam War. He had written the script, scouted locations and cast the pic for Carolco Pictures, where he had a pay-or-play deal. Paid in full, Rush said he wound up losing the project when Carolco entered into a deal with producer Dan Melnick. “Air America” is now being directed by Roger Spottiswoode in Thailand, with Mel Gibson and Robert Downey Jr. starring.

“Boy, am I sorry I lost that one,” Rush said. “Four years is a long time. But don’t make this sound like sour grapes. Because I really wish them a lot of luck with the project. There’s a great story there to be told.”


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