'City Hall' Recall Debate

Judy Brennan is a regular contributor to Calendar

'I'm working on my tan" has taken on new meaning for "City Hall" director Harold Becker, who found himself waiting literally weeks for Al Pacino's tawny look to fade before he could embark on a critical round of re-shoots.

Re-shoots can be costly, particularly when a film wrapped production five months earlier and all of the stars went on to other projects or changed their look significantly.

But that's the predicament Becker found himself in during the past few weeks when he called back "City Hall" stars Pacino, Bridget Fonda and John Cusack for a round of re-shoots, primarily to clarify the film's story.

"We were supposed to be finished with this picture last Christmas. But we ran into a problem with the weather. It started snowing a lot [in New York] so we couldn't even wrap until the end of March," he says. "And Al had done something which was very unusual for him. He had taken on two films back-to-back, mine and 'Heat.' In ["Heat"], he plays a cop in L.A. and he's supposed to be very tan. Well he was, so I literally had to wait for it to fade."

Others involved with the production say there's more to these re-shoots than skin-tone continuity, however. They say there was an earlier round of re-shoots that occurred a week or two after the picture wrapped. Becker denies that, saying that the filming done in April was second-unit work.

Some sources involved also say that while some of the re-shooting was necessary to repair critical flaws, Becker's perfectionism also played a role.

"Doing re-shoots like this is incredibly expensive, particularly when it's this late in the game," says one source. "The budget is already over $55 million. Who knows what this could drive it to." It's unclear how much the additional shooting will cost the producers at Castle Rock Pictures.

Martin Shafer, Castle Rock's president, downplayed the re-shoots and the additional costs. "We are not concerned because Harold knows what he's doing. The weather is the culprit here," he says. The only disappointment, say Shafer and Becker, is that the anticipated October release has been bumped to February.

"Look, I know I'm a perfectionist, and it's true, if you'd let me I'd keep going," Becker says. "But the truth is, what upsets me about this picture is that the release had to be pushed back at all. And that's the only tempest in this teapot."

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