Friday, January 22, 2010

exclusive : Sydney snares film awards and Morgan's on the way

            On the day NSW premier Kristina Keneally ( with Cate Blanchett in tow) announced that Sydney has lured the Australian Film Awards (AFI) away from their usual home in Melbourne, tSS can exclusively announce plans are well underway to film a science fiction epic based on the Sir Arthur C.Clarke's award-winning 1972 novel Rendezvous with Rama ,some of which will be shot in Australia.
           The rights to Rama were purchased by actor Morgan Freeman several years ago and he has raised $US200M to produce the film. tSS's Hollywood spy disguised as Freeman's co-producer says that script problems are nearly over with Freeman, a perfectionist  demanding re-writes to steer the movie away from Hollywood sensationalism and to stay more faithful with Clarke's original concept, much like Stanley Kubrik's epic 2001 A Space Odyssey, based on another Clarke novel.
        Rendevous with Rama is set in the 22nd century when an alien ship suddenly appears in Earth's solar system and an expedition is sent out to explore the first alien artifact. The film has been Freeman's pet project for over 10 years now.
         tSS was fortunate to visit Sri Lanka in 2006 to meet with Freeman and Sir Arthur when the actor arrived to spend a week with the science fiction master in his rambling beachside bungalow to discuss aspects of the production.
         Much of the film is to be shot in New Zealand at Lord of the Ring's director Peter Jackson's studios with dates now being lined up at Sydney's Fox Studios and the Gold Coast's Warner Bros studios in 2011. Freeman will produce, direct and star in the film and is expected to visit Australia later this year.
         Freeman and Clarke formed a close bond as far back as 1996 when he first contacted the writer about purchasing the rights to his book. He, along with most of Sri Lanka were rocked when Sir Arthur was accused of sex crimes by one of the UK's most tawdry tabloids in 1998.

           Unkown to the outside world, Clarke had been paralyzed from the waist down for over 15 years putting paid to some of the physical claims by a reporter. Like the US president FDR, he would have himself propped up for media photographs to give the impression he was mobile on his legs.
           Clarke was regarded as one of Sri Lanka's most honoured citizens having spent almost his entire life living there. Despite Sri Lankan diplomats demanding the British newspaper hand over their proof, it continually declined to or ignored them.
            Then 3 young men admitted they had been paid cash by the newspaper to make the claims and withdrew their allegations. To this day, a Sri Lankan arrest warrant is still outstanding for the newspaper hack who filed the original report. Several NGOs who picked up on the false claims citing rumours alone, were only relieved from million dollar defamation lawsuits upon Clarke's death in 2008.
           At the time of the allegations, stories swirled about that the false claims were an attempt to embarrass HRH Prince Charles who was to travel to Sri Lanka in 1998 to invest Clarke with his knighthood. tSS has some inside credible knowledge on that, which we may publish one day.
            When Clarke died, he left most of his milllion dollar fortune to his Sri Lanka male partner of over 40 years and their extended family. The lurid tabloid stories contained tales of children living in Clarke's compound of an old English style house and half a dozen smaller houses. The kids turned out to be the children of his partner's brothers and sisters, all who had been housed by the British born writer.