'Bad Lieutenant' and bad blood in Venice

Competition takes on new meaning for Werner Herzog

VENICE -- The differences between noted film directors Werner Herzog and Abel Ferrara over a new version of "Bad Lieutenant" can be solved by a simple conversation over a bottle of whisky, Herzog said Friday at the Venice Film Festival.

Herzog's version of Ferrara's 1992 film, which stars Nicolas Cage as a cop whose career is derailed by drug and alcohol problems, is screening in competition at the 66th edition of the Venice fest. It had its world premiere Friday.

Ferrara's documentary "Napoli, Napoli, Napoli" is also screening in Venice, and leading up to the premiere of Herzog's film, Ferrara reportedly said he wished people associated with the project would "die in hell."

Herzog said the start and finish of his film as well as the setting (he set the film in New Orleans, rather than New York) differed from the original story, which he adapted for the new version, which also stars Eva Mendes as the prostitute friend of the main character.

Harvey Keitel played the protagonist role in the original film.

In Friday's news conference about the competition film, Herzog was asked three times about the connections between his film and the one Ferrara made 17 years ago. He said he had never seen the 1992 film -- nor any of Ferrara's other films, for that matter.

"I have never seen the films, but I would like to meet the man," Herzog said after the third question on the subject. "I have a feeling that if we met and talked, over a bottle of whisky, I should add, I think we could straighten everything out."