(Aus), July 9, 2003

Strike halts film

A NEW film starring Keanu Reeves and Jack Nicholson was halted mid-shoot in Paris this week when hundreds of striking arts workers closed down the production.

Around 650 demonstrators stormed the set on one of the bridges in the middle of the city late yesterday as a protest against French government plans to change their unemployment benefits regime, police said.

Nicholson tried in vain to negotiate with them, but they refused to move away, a person working on the film said.

US director Nancy Meyers, who previously made "What Women Want" with Mel Gibson, was part-way through the 12-day shoot in Paris when the incident occurred.

It was uncertain when the production - which was employing 300 French extras and technicians and which was injecting four million euros ($A6.88 million) into the city's economy - would be able to continue.

The striking arts workers have already forced the closure of many of France's summer festivals and have interrupted shows, films and television programs to press their demands.

The French scenes being filmed by Nicholson, Reeves and actress Diane Keaton were to go into a romantic comedy Meyers is making that is also set in New York City and the Hamptons.

The as-yet-untitled production is about a middle-aged music executive (Nicholson) used to dating much younger girlfriends, who, while recovering from a heart attack, falls for the mother of his latest conquest. Reeves plays his doctor who becomes a rival in the romantic triangle.

It was scheduled to be released in the United States on December 12, but the French strike could delay that, especially as such interruptions are not generally covered by movie insurance. The Paris scenes were meant to have been wrapped by July 11.

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