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Daily News TV Book (Los Angeles Area)
Week of June 10, 2000

The Streets turn 'Hostile' in TBS film

By Jay Bobbin
Tribune Media Services

Mardi Gras is always a lively event, and a new cable movie makes it livelier -- and a lot deadlier.

TBS continues its line of original feature films Sunday with the debut of "On Hostile Ground," suggesting what might happen if a sinkhole opened beneath countless revelers in New Orleans.

Major cracks in the pavement become apparent to a geologist played by "Northern Exposure" alumnus John Corbett, and apart from his professional obligations, but he has personal concerns.  His girlfriend (Jessica Steen, "Armageddon" and TV's "Earth 2") is a city official battling other dignitaries who don't want to see the local economy hurt by warnings of streets collapsing.  Meanwhile, her visiting niece (Brittany Daniel, formerly of "Dawson's Creek" and "Sweet Valley High") has an active role in the celebration in the French Quarter, putting her directly in the path of danger.

Despite the setting of "On Hostile Ground," the movie was made in Toronto, which put co-star Steen back on her native turf.  She got to see familiar faces and places, sometimes accompanied by fellow actors.

"I haven't lived there since 1989," she says "but John (Corbett, who will soon join HBO's 'Sex and the City') is the king of sniffing out a good time.  He found all the hot spots and even showed me a few.  Whenever I get back to Toronto, I check in with family and high-school friends, so that's how I spent a lot of my 'down' time."

The huge success of "Armageddon" has given Steen options to do other action-oriented pieces, but she claims her character's differing elements led her into "On Hostile Ground."  She reflects, "I like that she was a little fun to begin with, then got put in a very uncomfortable position while trying to do the best she could in her career.  The office she worked in was a little skewed.

"What was really amazing to me," Steen continues, "was the portion of New Orleans' French Quarter that they re-created in a rock quarry outside Toronto.  I found that very impressive, the way the whole street was designed to just fall away.  There was lots of smoke and explosions and foam.  In fact, the end of the movie is like 'Attack of the Killer Foam.'  The director, Mario Azzopardi ('TimeShifters'), was so excited by it.  He was like a kid in a candy store, jumping around and yelling, 'This is fabulous! Fabulous!' "

Actress Daniel had to not only jump around but hang around, since a pivotal sequence of "On Hostile Ground" dangles her above the ever-widening sinkhole.

"I was ready for it, but what I was not ready for was the weather in Toronto.  It was just freezing there when we made this last fall, and I had to run around in this little angel costume.  (Daniel's character rides aboard a Mardi Gras float.) I'm a Florida girl, so I'm not used to that."

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Last update: November 1, 2000 3:29 AM