Schwarzenegger film screening raises alarm with firefighters, police, Colombian activists

Thursday, February 7th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani attended a screening of Arnold Schwarzenegger's new movie and said criticism of the film by firefighters, police officers and Colombian activists is premature.

``Let's see the movie before criticizing it,'' Giuliani said Wednesday evening outside the Ziegfeld theater, where he attended the advance showing with former fire commissioner Thomas Von Essen.

The former mayor hasn't commented publicly on the film since seeing it, a Giuliani spokeswoman said Thursday.

In the movie, ``Collateral Damage,'' Schwarzenegger plays a Los Angeles firefighter seeking vengeance against Colombian terrorists who killed his family.

Fire and police union officials have expressed concerns that Giuliani's appearance at the screening might appear to link a Sept. 11 charity to the film.

In an initial press release promoting the screening, Warner Bros. said Giuliani would appear ``in association with the Twin Towers Fund and Twin Towers Board.'' Giuliani set up the fund last year for the families of firefighters and police lost in the attacks.

``It saddens us any time a tragedy is used to promote anything like a movie,'' said Peter Gorman, president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association.

Warner Bros. issued a new statement Wednesday, clarifying that Giuliani and the staff of the Twin Towers Fund were invited to the screening as guests, and not as sponsors.

At Wednesday's screening, Giuliani said Schwarzenegger had personally donated $1 million and helped raise $4 million more for families of rescuers killed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

``I'm very supportive of Arnold Schwarzenegger,'' the former mayor said.

Over the weekend, concerns had also been raised about the Colombian characters in the movie.

``There is a small percentage of people in Colombia involved in terrorism and drug activities,'' said the Rev. Brian Jordan, a Franciscan priest and immigration activist.

Schwarzenegger attended the screening but did not speak to reporters. On NBC's ``Today'' show Wednesday, he defended the movie's portrayal of Colombians.

``This is a story about what America is doing to Colombia, and what Colombians, a few Colombian terrorists, are doing to America and what damage does it cause,'' he said.

Colombian activists are seeking a disclaimer saying the film is strictly fictional and doesn't intend to denigrate Colombians.