Union claims 'Tetro' shut down

Coppola's production house denies any delays

BUENOS AIRES – The Argentinean actors union is claiming that actors on director Francis Ford Coppola's "Tetro" have been working without a contract, and said they shut down the film's production here.

Coppola's spokeswoman, Kathleen Talbert, denied this, saying production on the film was proceeding as planned.

"There are no holds on shooting, no problem with actors. In fact, the majority of the Argentine actors have already wrapped the shooting," she wrote in an e-mail.

The Asociacion Argentina de Actores (Argentina Actors Association) claims that union members have been working without a contract since production started in late March and that Zoetrope Argentina -- Coppola's newly-formed local production house -- was given various opportunities to present the proper paperwork to avoid the work stoppage.

"At the moment, they are not filming because the contracts have [not] arrived to the union. On Tuesday, the union gave them 48 hours to present the documents and they didn't do that, so we took this action," AAA spokesman Daniel Valenzuela said.

Local press reports say that script changes and communication problems between the multi-national cast and crew have extended filming days beyond regularly scheduled hours, and that some of the Argentine actors are still not certain of their salary.

Argentina's strong production capabilities, competitive prices and European look have made it a popular destination for foreign film and commercial shoots in recent years.

"Tetro" has had a rocky road from the beginning. Thieves broke into the Palermo neighborhood office of Zoetrope Argentina in September and stole Coppola's computers and back-up systems. Oscar-winner Javier Bardem dropped out just before shooting began and his part was re-written as a female role for actress Carmen Maura.

Coppola's semi-autobiographical screenplay tells the tale of an artistic family in modern-day Argentina, and stars Vincent Gallo in the title role as well as Maribel Verdu, Alden Ehrenreich, Rodrigo de la Serna and Leticia Bredice.

The AAA said it plans to send inspectors to the set on Friday evening to ensure that filming does not take place.