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Last Updated: Friday, 16 July, 2004, 08:25 GMT 09:25 UK
Clooney film Mafia claims denied
Ocean's Eleven
The stars of Ocean's Eleven have returned for the sequel
Reports that members of the Mafia were trying to extort money from production staff on the film set of Ocean's Twelve have been dismissed.

Filming for the sequel to Steven Soderbergh's Ocean's Eleven, starring George Clooney and Brad Pitt, took place in Sicily earlier this month.

Police feared that Mafia suspects seen loitering near the set may have been looking to blackmail film-makers

But producer Jerry Weintraub said the reports were "nonsense".

All of Italy was great... I hate for them to get a bum rap like this
Jerry Weintraub

"We were never approached by any Mafia for extortion money," said Weintraub.

"It's ridiculous. It's total fabrication. They said I was worried about my stars. That was nonsense.

"No one ever threatened any of us. If anybody was going to get extorted it was me.

"All of Italy was great. We had nothing but a wonderful time. I hate for them to get a bum rap like this."

A number of scenes in the movie were shot in the seaside town of Scopello, western Sicily.

Arms cache

Police official Giuseppe Linares said the film's crew and cast were unaware of an undercover investigation into local Mafia activity.

During the investigation, officers noticed some suspected mobsters hanging around the Ocean's Twelve set.

Linares said the mobsters may have been looking to extort the production or could have been concerned that a secret alcove used to hide arms in the area might be uncovered during the production.

Ocean's Twelve - which also stars Matt Damon, Julia Roberts and Catherine Zeta Jones - is due to be released in the UK in 2005.


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