Watered Down?

Thanks, but no thanks. That's what the U.S. Navy first told Orion Pictures, when the studio inquired about Naval cooperation in the making of its action-adventure, "Navy SEAL."

The reason: the script--in which the elite Sea Air and Land combat team goes into action in the Middle East--didn't pass muster.

Capt. Michael Sherman, director of the Navy Office of Information, West, tells us that, as originally written, Charlie Sheen's maverick-type character would have been court-martialed. "None of us would have put up with that kind of behavior from a junior officer," Sherman says. "He was belligerent and unprofessional beyond the bounds of professionalism."

After script revisions that resulted in a "toned-down, more believable" character, the U.S. Navy agreed to provide "limited cooperation," allowing the film crew to shoot for three days at the Naval base at Norfolk, Va.

Although the film takes dramatic license with certain aspects of the Navy--including truncated SEAL training time and relationships among the officers that are "a little fast and loose"--Sherman says "there are no hard feelings between the Navy and Orion."

Next week, in fact, the Navy will put on a special SEAL demonstration for the press, tied to the film's July 20 opening.

"Obviously, we get some benefits from any movie that depicts the military," Sherman explains. "After 'The Hunt for Red October' came out, there was interest in working on submarines. With 'SEAL,' I'm sure we'll be hearing from kids who are good in the water."

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