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Daily News of Los Angeles (LA)
Thursday, January 22, 1998


By: Marilyn Beck & Stacy Jenel Smith

Bruce  Willis,  in  his  last few weeks of filming ``Armageddon,'' has been waiting  to  learn  whether  he'll  get to ride on NASA's notorious ``vomit comet'' training jet before the feature wraps.

Turns  out  Willis and filmmaker Michael Bay have been lobbying - hard - for  months  to get aboard the aircraft, which simulates weightlessness. In fact, according  to Willis' ``Armageddon'' co-star Jessica Steen, ``George Bush  came  to  visit us on the set in Houston, with Bruce hoping he'd pull some  strings.''  When  Willis  brought former President Bush over ``to say hello  to  us,'' reports Steen, ``we all started saying, `We want to go up! We want to go up!' ''

Restrictions  on  civilian  flights  aboard  the  special  jet have been tightened  by  Congress since Tom Hanks, Ron Howard and other ``Apollo 13'' movie  team members  took their much-publicized two rides three years ago, notes  Steen.  But  that  hasn't quelled the ``Armageddon'' troupe's hopes. ``Letters  are  still being  written. ... It's 50-50 at this point whether we'll go,'' she feels.

Steen  plays  a space shuttle pilot in the July release, in which Willis stars  as an oil driller whose skills are enlisted to save the Earth when a giant  asteroid  is headed  our  way. She reports that the company has had great support and cooperation from NASA personnel - not only in Houston but at Cape Canaveral. She adds, ``Part of the reason NASA is being so generous with their facilities and allowing us so much access is because any kind of publicity promotes funding for them.'' Gotcha.

An alternate version appeared in the Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)...

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