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Friday, 4 May, 2001, 13:47 GMT 14:47 UK
Soderbergh gambling on Vegas 'caper'
The Rat Pack
The Rat Pack: Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr and Frank Sinatra
Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh is putting the finishing touches to his latest film, a remake of the Rat Pack classic Ocean's Eleven. BBC News Online's Chris Summers reports from Las Vegas on the latest movie from Soderbergh's production line.

Hollywood's hottest film director, Steven Soderbergh, is confident his next movie will be completed despite the looming actors' strike.

Films based in Las Vegas
Ocean's Eleven (1960) and (2001)
Viva Las Vegas, starring Elvis Presley (1963)
Casino, starring Robert DeNiro (1995)
Leaving Las Vegas, starring Nicolas Cage (1995)
Swingers, starring Jon Favreau (1996)
Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas, starring Johnny Depp (1998)
3,000 Miles To Graceland, starring Kevin Costner (2000)
Ocean's Eleven has an all-star cast including George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle and Elliott Gould.

It is a remake of the 1960 film of the same name, which starred Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr and Peter Lawford, together known as the Rat Pack.

Thousands of members of the Screen Actors' Guild could go on strike if they cannot reach a new deal with producers by the end of June.

But filming on location in Las Vegas finished last month and Warner Brothers spokeswoman Spooky Stevens told BBC News Online: "We are finishing off some internal scenes in LA but they will be done by the first week of June."

Natural film location

Soderbergh is not the first to have chosen Vegas as a film set. Hundreds of films have been made there, including gems such as Casino, Swingers and Leaving Las Vegas.

Ocean's Eleven is set on the night of a big title fight. Britain's Lennox Lewis squared up to Ukrainian Wladimir Klitschko in a mock fight for the cameras.

The MGM Grand in Las Vegas
Much of the filming took place at the MGM Grand
After losing his title to American Hasim Rahman, Lewis was criticised for having taken time off his training schedule to do the filming.

Crowd scenes were also filmed at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on the night of Prince Naseem Hamed's humbling at the hand of Mexican Marco Antonio Barrera.

Steven Soderbergh is such a good director, it's going to be a great film and I should think it would be in line for the Oscars next year.

Michael Buffer, ring MC
The MC that night was Michael Buffer, known throughout the world of boxing for his "Let's get ready to rumble" catchphrase, and he told BBC News Online he had great hopes for Soderbergh's new film.

Mr Buffer, who has a small part in the movie, told BBC News Online: "The film is set on the night of a big title fight.

"There is a gang who cause a blackout in Las Vegas and rob three casinos. It's an action movie."

'In line for Oscars'

He said: "Steven Soderbergh is such a good director, it's going to be a great film and I should think it would be in line for the Oscars next year."

As for his own cameo appearance, Mr Buffer joked: "Blink and you'll miss it."

Sadly much of the Rat Pack's Vegas has been blown up or knocked down since Ocean's 11 was filmed.

The original poster
The original film was a vehicle for the Rat Pack
Famous casinos like the Sands, Dunes and Thunderbird have disappeared and giant new super-casinos like the Bellagio, Luxor, Excalibur, MGM Grand and New York, New York have gone up in their place.

Ms Stevens told BBC News Online: "Most of the movie was filmed at the Bellagio, but we also used Caesars Palace, the Flamingo (Hilton), Barbary Coast and of course the MGM Grand."

She said it was "not so much a remake of the original, more a reworking" and although the basic premise is the same, the story is different.

Clooney is the new Sinatra

In the original, set 15 years after the end of World War II, Sinatra played Danny Ocean, the leader of a gang of war veterans who are bored of civvy street and looking for a bit of adrenaline so they rob a casino.

In the new film Clooney stars as Ocean, Brad Pitt plays Dusty Ryan (the Dean Martin part).

Roberts plays Ocean's ex-wife Tess and Cheadle plays Basher Tarr (the Sammy Davis Jr part).

Tess is married to casino owner Terry Benedict, played by Andy Garcia, a part which Ralph Fiennes apparently passed on.

Bellagio casino in Las Vegas
Much of the film's action is set in the 1bn Bellagio casino
Ms Stevens said: "It's a caper, rather than a shoot 'em up.

"There are no weapons in the film. The robbers use cunning and sly instead of guns."

She said the producers had not had any advice from casino security experts on the feasibility of the plot and added: "It's fiction. It's not a robbery anybody could actually carry out."

Ocean's Eleven is expected to open in the US in December and in the UK and Europe early in 2002.

See also:

20 May 00 | Americas
Showgirl guilty of casino murder
13 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Steven Soderbergh: Man of promise
26 Mar 01 | Film
Traffic speeding ahead
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