One "scandal" after another in this sordid town: Hollywood productions typically pay extras $50 a day (plus sandwich and drink) -- or they make a "donation" to a community organization, which solicits "volunteer" labor. The Net, a thriller starring Sandra Bullock as a computer geek turned heroine (she's the only living human who can stymie a lunatic hacker and avoid the destruction of civilization as we know it), needs two to three thousand bodies April 9 for an AIDS vigil on Market Street. (The march is merely a plot device by which Bullock eludes some nasty pursuers, à la the St. Patrick's Day parade in The Fugitive. So why not a Columbus Day or Cinco de Mayo parade? Because the movie's set in S.F., and we're stereotyped as Gayville, USA.) The Columbia Pictures production approached four gay/lesbian groups about procuring extras in exchange for a donation, but all concluded it was more trouble than it was worth. However, the local chapter of the American Red Cross did accept the deal and mass-mailed a sea of press releases and fliers -- although none indicates why the Red Cross is involved or what it receives. I'd guess The Net wrote a check in the neighborhood of $20,000, real money to the Red Cross and a bargain for the producers. The number to call, if you still want to be in the movies, is 202-0790.
Triumph of the Will
As for the Leni Riefenstahl brouhaha, the Chronicle didn't get the whole story about her nonvisit. The S.F. Film Festival backed off when at least four staffers vowed to quit if the 92-year-old German director was given an award and feted as an honored guest. Despite Jon Carroll's protestations, Riefenstahl isn't an innocent victim, even if she's guilty of nothing more than unbridled ambition during the Third Reich. No one objects to screening her films, just to the repulsive notion of throwing a bash for her.
I Am Curious -- Yellow
Mercury House, the local publisher of four National Society of Film Critics collections, has another at the presses for an August release. Flesh and Blood addresses sex, violence and censorship, and is a rebuttal to the Michael Medved school of puritanical standards. Plans are afoot for an anti-censorship film series at the Castro to coincide with publication -- a sequel of sorts to the Castro program that coincided with the first book in the series, the Michael Sragow-edited Produced and Abandoned ... Teddi Dean Bennett's debut feature, A Holy Promise, sold out the Exploratorium's McBean Theatre. A second show is in the works, details to follow ... Wasn't that an inspired choice by Merchant Ivory, casting Frank Gifford as the lead in Jefferson in Paris?